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South Jordan councilman proposes split from Jordan School District

Published: Monday, Nov. 18 2013 11:14 p.m. MST

Should South Jordan have its own school district and cut ties with 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.

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SOUTH JORDAN — Should South Jordan have its own school district and cut ties with 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.

The 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-term to intermediate plans for the Jordan School District.

“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 School District split in which Canyons School District was created. Newton said that study determined it was feasible for South Jordan to have its own district.

Newton said 51 cents of every property tax dollar collected in South Jordan goes to the Jordan School District.

“I think we need to have the residents have a say in this,” he said. “If 51 cents of every dollar goes to Jordan School District, and we can cut that down to 35 cents or 41 cents, that’s pretty substantial."

Newton said he suspects Jordan School District will attempt in 2014 to rerun the nearly $500 million school bond that failed in the 2013 municipal election.

One Jordan School District official said the school board has made no such decision. The body is next scheduled to meet on Nov. 26.

District spokesperson Sandy Riesgraf offered only a limited statement when asked for a response to a potential South Jordan split.

“We feel it’s a little premature to comment right now," she said. "However, we do encourage everyone to understand the true cost of educating our children.”

Newton said he expects to see strong support for a split.

“If they could do it for cheaper but still do a good job, that’d be fine,” said resident Kelley Johnson.

Another resident, Ron Pinarelli, said after the Jordan-Canyons split, he's 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.”

If the updated numbers show a South Jordan district is feasible, Newton said he hopes the city could hold public hearings on the matter in early 2014.

Email: aadams@ksl.com

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