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South Jordan councilman pushing for new city-run school district

By Andrew Adams | Posted - Nov 18th, 2013 @ 7:46pm


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SOUTH JORDAN — Should South Jordan have its own school district and cut its ties to the Jordan School District?

It's an idea that appears to have some traction at the city level, with a council member set to call on the city to determine the feasibility.

"I think it'll cut [residents'] property taxes substantially — anywhere from 10 to 20 percent by breaking away from the Jordan School District," councilman Chuck Newton said of a city-run district.

The basic idea behind the proposal would be for the more affluent city to retain its property tax revenue and permit a city-run district to better serve its education needs. Newton said the city needs another high school, junior high and two elementary schools — and none are in the short to intermediate Jordan District plans.

"Jordan School District's bond is set to go out five years and maybe 10 years before they take a look and say, OK, what else are we going to do?" Newton said. "Even if we don't turn around and build those schools immediately, we'll see a significant tax decrease to our residents."

South Jordan already conducted a feasibility study on the matter in 2007, in the midst of the Jordan-Canyons split. That study determined it was feasible for South Jordan to have its own district, Newton said.

Fifty-one cents of every property tax dollar collected in South Jordan goes to the Jordan School District, according to Newton.

"I think we need to have the residents have a say in this," Newton said. "If 51 cents of every dollar goes to Jordan School District, and we can cut that down to $0.35 or $0.41, that's pretty substantial."

Newton said he suspects Jordan School District will attempt in 2014 to re-run the nearly $500-million school bond that failed in the 2013 municipal election cycle. One Jordan School District official said the school board has made no such decision.

The body was next scheduled to meet on Nov. 26.

When asked for a response to a potential district split, Jordan district spokesperson Sandy Riesgraf offered only a limited statement.

"We feel it's a little premature to comment right now, however we do encourage everyone to understand the true cost of educating our children," Riesgraf said.

Newton said he expected to see strong support for a split. At least a few residents had reservations about such a move.

"If they could do it for cheaper but still do a good job, that'd be fine," said Kelley Johnson.

Another resident, Ron Pinarelli, said after the Jordan-Canyons split, he remained leery of another divide.

"I think it would have to be put on paper and maybe backed up with something," Pinarelli said. "But I don't think they can do it on their own."

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