Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Jordan Board Meeting About MOU with Cities

Below are my notes from today's special study session of the Jordan Board of Education.  South Jordan City feasibility study discussion on Wednesday, July 30 from 4:00 - 6:00 with public comment open at 6:00.  This will be at the South Jordan Community Center, approximately 11000 S Redwood Road.  Tuesday August 5 the SJC Council will decide whether or not to put a split on the ballot.

JSD board meeting about SJC split - Corbin is not here.

Attorney Joan said MOU is not legally enforceable. Inter local agreement is legally binding contract. They have limited term. MOU can be terminated at any time.

Mr. Crane says no to inter local agreement. MOU is fine.

Change the word "shall" to "may" become interlocal agreement. Mr. Crane and Mrs. Kennett want interlocal agreement out altogether. Mrs. Pulsipher and Mrs. Whitelock think it is more likely to be agreed to by the cities if a statement with the word "may" in it.  Attorney recommended adding sentence stating that the MOU is not a legally binding contract. Mrs. Pulsipher doesn't want them to think the board is not serious about the MOU.

Mr. Crane doesn't think the MOU doesn't need to be this long and a lot of items in this new document were not in the original. This is just getting deeper.  Making mountain out of a mole hill. Do not want to be overreaching. Requests in latest document are too overreaching. Mrs. Voorhies agrees. Some limit school board. Need flexibility to deal with needs of various cities. Constraints should not interfere with their ability to do their job as a school board.

Mrs. Pulsipher said generally speaking, the items are things the board should do. W haven't been doing them. Give cities a comfort level that the board will do these items. Mrs. Voorhies said there is no level of comfort for her. Nothing that says the city will change their behavior.  She will not sign if it doesn't include a guarantee of not putting a split on the ballot. Paid no attention to what board said.

Mr. Crane is fine with MOU. Fine to increase dialogue. Best interest of students to not split. Entered discussion with a degree of trust that if JSD entered MOU agreement, that would be the end of split talk. We want to avoid a split. The split cloud is still hanging there. (Chuck Newton from SJC council walked in and sat at the same table with School board members, attorney, and district level administrators.)

Mr. Crane said there are too many variables on when schools will be built. Need flexibility there. Mrs. Kennett said in the five year plan, the first year would be pretty set, but then the next years would need to change. Mr. Newton said their intent was that the focus could go to growing areas.

Prior to purchasing land, will work with cities to cite new facilities. Mrs. Voorhies said that they want kids to walk to school if possible, but there are many schools where that is not possible at this time. Mrs. Pulsipher said it states that the board will make reasonable effort to have walking schools. Mr. Newton said they are assuming the board will make reasonable efforts. Sometimes you have to deal with crisis issues and deal with less severe overcrowding. Not trying to lock you in to something that is unreasonable. Asking for good faith effort. Mayors are not aware of all the information the board has. Interested on action and delivery. When interlocal agreement is executed, will need to have more communication. This is not a static process. Mrs. Voorhies asked then why do we need MOU? Mr. Newton said originally that there was the six areas of concern. Were asked to provide detail of what was meant. He taught communication in college. Had them draw a tree, and all were different. Providing more details makes things more clear. Mrs. Voorhies said it is restrictive and it is stuff cities are interested in, but not what board needs. More than happy to communicate about schools with each city. This feels like a belt you keep tightening. Mr. Newton (said with respect again) said cities have to make plans. Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Asking for plans so we are all on the same page. Mrs. Whitelock said the policy on safe walking routes is already in place. Mr. Newton (said personally again) said he is concerned about 10400 S. Is it wrong to make an interlocal agreement? How is this restrictive if you already agree to the items?

Mr. Osborn said everything here is based on old things, even though Mr. Newton said he doesn't want to rehash old things.  Mrs. Voorhies said she will give him a policy book. We shouldn't have to redefine the policy.  More effective if there is a general agreement that people refer back to. Senator Harper said he understood that the language was worked out. SJC resolution had six items to which the board responded. Suggested an interlocal agreement that focuses on the six items only and just work through them over the course of a year. Mr. Newton wants a binding interlocal agreement. Doesn't want to be involved in every little detail. Just want to talk. Want to keep schools out of high commercial areas. Thought meeting last week was the negotiation. Now the goal posts are moving again. Large concern here is that board in not delivering the items, but discussing moving the dates, which means the cities aren't getting what they want by July 30. Have to hope there is a good faith effort from the board.

Mrs. Whitelock said the board was prepared for the meeting last week with a different agreement. She asked Mr. Newton about the guarantee of no split. Mr. Newton said if they sign an interlocal agreement they won't put it on the ballot. He wanted to come so the board would understand the intent. He is happy to leave with information from Representative Cunningham.  If he leaves and the changes the board makes are too far, they will come back with an interlocal agreement.  Will ask if willing to sign, then it will likely go to the ballot. SJC attorney said he has talked with all the mayors who are very frustrated. A challenge the board needs to reconcile is that cities work with other government agencies through an interlocal agreement. There is no trust. These agreements force people to sit down together and talk. Look at six items in original SJC resolution. Mayor Freeman and Mayor Applegarth did not want to come to pressure the board into anything. Gain interlocal agreement for a year that they will work toward resolving issues. If board and mayors have an agreement, and no legislation is run to make splitting more difficult, then SJC can decide in a year if things are working with the district of not. Need to talk regularly around the table.

Mr. Osborn asked if it is not an interlocal agreement, will the cities agree? SJC attorney said it would make it more difficult for a city to split. More you change original six items, the more cities will push back. He doesn't want to go through another split. Mr. Crane said an interlocal agreement with this much detail is too far from the original six items. If it is general enough to allow flexibility, he could live with interlocal agreement.  Keep it under two pages. Could support interlocal agreement if it is short, general, flexible. Why is the mistrust always with the district? Probably goes both ways. Everybody wants to have good level of trust. (They really need some interest based bargaining training.)

Mrs. Kennett asked what happened to the boards response to the SJC council resolution. Mr. Newton was not present at July 3 meeting. Mr. Seethaler told him that those changes were incorporated into the copy given out at the meeting last Monday. Mrs. Kennett again asked about the intent document, because he didn't answer he question.

SJC attorney said they mayors agree that if the board wants to get this done, the district has not given mayors a lot of comfort. Board took serious actions. Mrs. Pulsipher said there has been tension for a number of years. More restrictive until trust returns. There are more guidelines and less have to, but there is more detail. As move forward in relationship, restrictions will lessen. This is not ideal. She sees the need for more detail. Hopefully a year from now, will not need the agreement anymore.

Mrs. Whitelock said the players all change regularly, the interlocal agreement doesn't change. SJC attorney said if you get the agreement in place, legislators will be watching board and mayors to make sure they don't misbehave again. If board has behaved badly, the legislators will make it easier to split. If cities misbehave, the legislature will revoke the law that allows a district split.

Attorney Joan talked about binding future school boards and a potential split at termination of agreement.  MOU isn't going to work from the citys' perspective. If go with an interlocal agreement, have a sunset provision. Senator Harper pointed out that Mr. Newton cannot speak for SJC council. If board sends an agreement to SJC council to work on original six items, then would that stop a split. Mr. Newton said the goal posts have moved significantly on one item and slightly on one. If we agree to interlocal agreement, there is no vote to put a split on the ballot. The discussion will be focused on if the board has delivered on items from resolution. Needs detail so there is no misunderstanding. Mr. Newton said what district gave cities is not sufficient.

SJC attorney said Mayor Freeman is concerned about the oversight committee. Mr. Crane asked who would draft the language of the interlocal agreement. Wants to work cooperatively. Okay if not too restrictive or overstepping of boundaries. Mrs. Pulsipher said time is the problem. Mr. Newton wants a draft to review on July 30 so they could make changes and finalize by August 5. He wants SJC attorney to draft agreement and then meet with Joan Andrews to revise. He is not concerned about drafting of agreement, but he wants deliverables on a building plan and construction timeline. In giving you more time, cities are moving forward and waiting for deliverables. He feels there is a risk. Mrs Pulsipher said the date has not changed. Mr. Newton said a tentative plan by July 30 is not good enough. Mr. Wall, SJC attorney, said interlocal agreement doesn't solve issues, but buys time. Gives SJC chance to not put split on ballot.

Mr. Osborn said all they need is time for thoughtful discussion. Mrs. Kennett would be comfortable with SJC attorney and their attorney to draft interlocal agreement. Joan Andrews said she is happy to do what they ask, but the timeline is very tight. She has concerns about not having enough time to review. Mr. Wall said it will be much like original MOU with eight items with timelines over the nest year. He wants to be a facilitating lawyer, not an advocate for one side or the other. Mrs. Andrews needs time to review and meet with the board. Mr. Osborn said district administrators need to review to see if timelines are reasonable. He handed a 1 1/2 inch binder to Mr. Wall that is the district response to the SJC resolution. Mr. Wall is going to work off the MOU from the meeting last week. Mr. Wall will fashion it based on benchmarks.

Mr. Wall will start with the MOU draft, but mayors cannot add anything else. Mr. Newton said there will be few specifics. This is the MOU post meeting last week. Final copy after redlines were deleted. Mr. Newton said the board should send specific concerns to Mr. Wall or Mrs. Andrews. She has the agreement from the July 14 meeting.

Mr. Crane concerned about attendance in closed session. He doesn't want the mayors telling district what kind of school to build. Mrs. Pulsipher said number four would be less specific and include some experts who build commercially and not schools to review. Mr. Newton said his perception is that the building review committee of parents and teachers would override the committee of experts. Mra. Pulsipher said item 2 and 4 had most concerns. Have outside experts look at construction processes to see if the district can save money on construction. Mrs. Voorhies wants in the interlocal agreement that SJC will not put it on the ballot. Mr. Newton said his concern is that we don't have the deliverables nor feedback on why it is taking so long. Despite what feasibility study will show, which is positive in many areas, staying in district is possible. A signed interlocal agreement gives a 90-100% chance that SJC will not put a split on the ballot. He said he received information from a legislator that changes things. Mrs. Voorhies said the board is going to trust SJC on this, so "Don't mess with us."

July 30 roll out feasibility study and have public input on it. August 5 vote on whether to put on ballot.

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