I was not at that meeting, so I didn't hear first-hand the dialogue that
took place, but I am a resident of South Jordan. There is something in the
article that disturbs me. The quoted statement by Chuck Newton seems to be
opposite of what he should have said: "I promised the (school) board, gave
them my word of honor, that if they signed the interlocal agreement, they
wouldn’t see it on the ballot," Councilman Chuck Newton said. "I
am honoring that word tonight."A council member represents the
people of the city, not the school district.Dividing the Jordan
School District is a complex decision, but it should NEVER be the result of a
pre-arranged "agreement" between a council member and the school
There has been finger pointing on both sides, with serious gaps in
communication. As one who attends SoJo City meetings as well as JSD Board and
Town Hall meetings, I think when people accuse City or JSD of "never knowing
what is going on..." should attend the meetings I've been to, where
hard work and effort to present useful information to diffuse questions are
always presented, you have a chance to ask those questions, but the question I
ask is, "Where are all the people from my community?" It took these
kinds of district split threats to create an interlocal agreement (where the
Mayor is now required to sit in on meetings with the JSD Board so they can
coordinate better), and a feasibility study, which cost the taxpayers a lot of
money, to make the obvious determination. Yes, I was there last night, and I
guess the good thing is, they are on the same page.
It's too bad the people of South Jordan are not in communication with their
city leaders. And visa-versa. For the last two years, the Jordan School
District has had monthly meetings with every mayor from every city. Sometimes
these meetings lasted for several hours. All cities knew everything they wanted.
All aspects of the district were open in full detail. There sounds like there
now are some political agendas on the rise.
So sad that it takes the threat of a split to force education leaders to
communicate or collaborate with local city officials and the residents they
serve. Hopefully the dialogue will be constructive and improve the district.
In many parts of the country school district boundaries follow city boundaries
and there is a lot of partnering that occurs. Many of those cities tout the
strength and quality of their school district to attract businesses and
residents. You don't really hear that around Utah because there is such a
disconnect between the school districts and the communities they serve - a
self-imposed intellectual curtain - as if the average citizen just can't
understand or appreciate the inner workings of a school district so their
opinions are quickly discounted or ignored. As long as that disconnect exists
it will be tough to pass bonds and improve education funding. The lack of
transparency and the lack of real, meaningful dialogue and consideration of
public opinion will continue to doom education funding in Utah and will fuel
split efforts. Truly meaningful engagement and involvement is the only cure.
What is the "interlocal agreement"?
Actually what Hodnett said was "The last bond measure made him feel like the
kid persecuted by the bully for his lunch money."