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Editorial: Jordan area doesn’t need more service balkanization

Save the Jordan School District.

First Published Aug 01 2014 05:11 pm • Last Updated Aug 01 2014 05:30 pm

It wouldn’t be the first time that a messy, expensive divorce was avoided by an agreement to improve the way the partners communicate.

For the sake of the children, of course.

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The South Jordan City Council the other night indicated that it might be about to give up on the idea of pulling their rapidly growing city out of overwhelmed-by-growth Jordan School District.

While a decision on moving forward with secession awaits the city council’s Aug. 5 meeting, members did approve a pact with the school district that pledges more communication and consultation about how the educational needs of the burgeoning area might best be met.

Talking things out is always good, especially in this case.

The last thing the mushrooming population of southwest Salt Lake County needs is a further balkanization of the already confusing number of government entities that provide public services.

Households and businesses within the Jordan School District are already divided by mostly unseen boundaries into the cities of South Jordan, West Jordan, Herriman, Bluffdale and Riverton, as well as territory that lies within the unincorporated areas of Salt Lake County.

The citizens and elected leaders of South Jordan aren’t wrong to worry that the citizens and elected leaders of the Jordan School District aren’t keeping up with the demands placed on the system by the bumper crop of new homes.

But a move to break away and start up a new school district, multiplying the costs and dividing the tax base, was more of a cry for help than a serious policy proposal.

A much better solution, which now appears possible, would be for all the local officials to spend more time working together to solve their mutual problems rather than smashing the crockery and threatening to move out when things aren’t going well.

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And, as school district officials are called to include city officials in their planning process, those city leaders should also volunteer to step up with less condescension and more assistance. City zoning decisions, the pace at which they add housing subdivisions and the standards they hold developers to can have huge impacts on those trying to keep up with the need for schools, teachers and programs.

City leaders could also help their school counterparts find new revenue sources to meet needs without mind-boggling bond issues. A joint delegation to ask the Utah Legislature to let school districts impose impact fees on new development would be one such way to help.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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