Dear Mayor Osborne and South Jordan City Council Members,
I am unable to attend the council meeting tonight where Council member Newton will propose that South Jordan form its own school district as noted in this newscast. I am against this for many reasons including costs, quality of education, and employee morale.
In the story, Mr. Newton said, "Because South Jordan only needs one high school, one middle school and two elementary schools, that we'll be able to cut costs.” Currently within the district boundaries are Bingham High, South Jordan and Elk Ridge Middle Schools, along with seven elementary schools, six of which are already on year-round schedules: South Jordan, Monte Vista, Jordan Ridge, Elk Meadows, Welby, Daybreak, and Eastlake. There are students living in South Jordan City boundaries who attend Herriman or Copper Hills High. Bingham is not large enough to hold all the high school students living in South Jordan City.
It cost $33 million just to split Jordan and Canyons Districts back in 2009. This was after months of negotiations and mediation with transition teams from both sides. See this article. In addition to the $33 million to pay for the split, Jordan District had to cut $17 million in the 2010-2011 budget. See this article. These cuts hurt students. One example is the money for aides in Special Education classes was reduced leaving those students who are the most needy without the support to help them be successful.
The quality of education students receive will suffer. Jordan School District has an excellent curriculum department that provides many resources for teachers at all levels. See Jordan District. The new district would likely be unable to hire those types of specialists, leaving teachers on their own to create curriculum. As an elementary teacher, I appreciate having those specialists who can align curriculum to the Utah Core, provide quality assessments, and give curriculum maps for pacing subjects taught throughout the year. If my time had to be spent doing those types of activities for all the subjects I’m required to teach, there would be less time for me to work with students and provide them with the feedback they need to improve.
Many employees on both sides of the Jordan/Canyons split felt like they were just assets assigned to buildings back in 2009. We weren’t treated as individuals. The morale is just now, five years later, beginning to improve. Employees have not received their step increases three of the last five years. While this is a different pay system than in other industries, when people are hired, the District explains the pay system, so there is an expectation that has not been met. If South Jordan were to break off to form their own district, employee salary increases on both sides would likely be nonexistent. At the time of the Jordan/Canyons split, I felt discouraged and frustrated with my career. I have become more optimistic as I have utilized the tools provided by Jordan District. I am proud to have been teaching in Jordan District for 22 years. I teach sixth grade at Elk Meadows Elementary, and I love my job!
Please stop the discussion on breaking away from Jordan District now.