Proposal to fund feasibility study regarding school district split voted down in West Jordan

Posted at 10:06 PM, Jul 09, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-10 00:06:37-04

WEST JORDAN, Utah -- The city of West Jordan spent Wednesday evening debating the fate of its school system.

It’s one of two cities considering splitting from the Jordan School District, a possibility that is not sitting well with residents or the city council.

"Splitting the district will not benefit those that I care about most, children. Opportunities for students will be dramatically reduced due to funding,” said one resident.

During a public hearing, the council asked residents to weigh in a proposal to pay $41,000 for a study that would look at the feasibility of such a split.

The city of South Jordan is already studying the matter, which is mainly why council members in West Jordan feel they have to.

“I’ve been working with the other mayors of the cities to try and keep the district together and make sure that it’s a more viable district. Just in the event that South Jordan splits the district, we want to have all options available to the residents,” said West Jordan’s Mayor, Kim Rolfe.

West Jordan accounts for 12 schools in the Jordan School District, which is made up of six cities and some parts of Salt Lake County. If South Jordan were to leave, Rolfe believes funding allocated for their entire district would be cut due to fewer students, which would cost the district some of its educational programs.

“We have special education schools that are available to address very specific needs of students, and unless you have a critical mass of students, you aren’t always able to provide those services,” Rolfe said.

The city hopes to do the feasibility study as a way to be prepared, in the event South Jordan does leave. But that doesn’t seem to be a worthwhile cost, according to residents who addressed the council.

“Tonight, I speak on the behalf of the majority of teachers in Jordan District and ask that you do not spend tax dollars on a feasibility study,” said one woman, who teaches within the district.

After nearly two hours of discussion, the council voted against the study in a 2-4 vote.

However, they then moved to use an older study from 2007, which was done when the Canyons School District split from the district. That vote also failed.

After other failed attempts to move to a decision, the council moved on with the rest of the evening’s agenda.

With no decision or plan in place, the council has the ability to simply wait and see what happens with South Jordan. They can then decide to revisit the 2007 study at a later date, if needed.