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The City Journals

Jordan District Faces Potential Problems in Funding Schools

Mar 10, 2016 09:57AM ● By Bryan Scott

By Hope Zitting | [email protected] 

South Valley - As Martin Luther King, Jr. famously stated, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” Education can perhaps be the difference between assuming and knowing, a job and a career, and judgment and insight. The opportunity to receive an education is often thought of as life-changing. 

But what occurs when the funds that go toward the building of an educational facility do not suffice the growing population? During the Herriman City Council meeting on Feb. 10, the Jordan School District offered a five-year report to the mayor, city council members and the residents in the audience.

“You don’t have to spend much time driving around Herriman to know that this city, our city, is growing, and the district is growing. And with all that growth comes a lot of children. At a recent state conference, they said that one-third of the membership in our state was under 12 years old. That’s indicative of all the states. There’s a lot of children in the city,” J. Lynn Crane, Jordan School District Board of Education member, said during the presentation.

The Jordan School District has many impressive statistics regarding the size of the student body. The largest high school in the state is Copper Hills, which enrolled 2,711 students this school year. The second largest high school in the state is Herriman High School, with a student enrollment of 2,623. Four of the high schools located within the Jordan School District -- Copper Hills, Herriman, Bingham and Riverton -- are all in the top 10 of the largest population of three- year high schools in the state.

Concerning middle schools, Sunset Ridge, Fort Herriman and South Jordan are in the top 10 of the largest middle schools. Copper Mountain Middle School and West Hills Middle School, as well as the previous three schools listed, are recognized in the top 25 of largest middle schools. 

Eighteen elementary schools in the state contain 1,000 or more students enrolled; six of those elementary schools are located within the Jordan School District: East Lake, Foothills, Silver Crest, Blackridge, Welby and Daybreak. Thirteen of the Jordan School District’s elementary schools have an enrollment of more than 900 students. 

Regarding the five-year building construction plan, there are many components included. This plan requires bonding with at least one bond in November of this year. It also includes the construction of four new elementary schools, two new middle schools and one new high school, as well as one rebuilt middle school. 

In 2013, the Jordan School District proposed a $495 million bond to voters. The bond failed by a vote of 67 percent. 

“This is going to be an ambitious project. I think one of the reasons why the bond failed last time was that we did not have good dialogue with all of the stakeholders – the cities especially. The size of that bond hasn’t been determined, but it could be up to maybe half the amount that bond was a couple years ago, in the range of $250 million. Or we could have a couple bonds and do it in stages,” Crane said. 

“We are looking at our options and trying to decide what is the best decision for our district in terms of the bond,” Susan Pulsipher, president of the Jordan School District Board of Education, said.

There were various complaints concerning the bond that was proposed in 2013. One of the biggest concerns was the high cost of buildings. The Jordan School District responded by organizing a Facility Advisory, Building Utilization, Building Design, and Board Committees, which ultimately would result in a 17 percent reduction. 

If the proposed bond does not pass in November, there may be potential problems occurring in the Jordan School District. “[If the bond doesn’t pass], we’ll have to look at other ways to handle the growth. The solutions will be difficult. The solutions would be overcrowded schools, and adding more portables, double sessions. There’s only so much we can do. The schools would get very, very crowded. Any time a facility is overcrowded, it will impact the education. We want to maximize the learning environment for each student and we tried to construct the new schools to maximize the learning for the students,” Pulsipher said. “We have the lowest debt out of all the districts that have debt. We’ve done a very good job in trying lately to manage our finances.”

At least one bond will be proposed this coming November.