I attended the Western Growth Coalition Meeting today to listen to the discussion about the requests from South Jordan City and a draft Memorandum of Understanding on communication and collaboration between the Jordan School Board and the Cities within Jordan District. I have highlighted key comments in red. See the Salt Lake Tribune article as well.
In attendance: Susan Pulsipher Kayleen Whitelock, Peggy Jo Kennett, Lynn Crane, Janice Voorhies, Dr. Johnson, Scott Thomas, Steve Dunham, Brad Sorensen, Todd Quarnberg, Don Findlay, Dave Alvord, Carmen Freeman, Bill Applegarth, Kim Rolfe, Mayor Timothy, Jim Bird, Rich Cunningham, Ken Ivory, Wayne Harper, Chuck Newton, Mark Seethaler, Jen Atwood, Teresa Atherley, Alexandra Eframo, Gary Whatcott, John Dearing, 2 city attorneys, several reporters, a dozen other people I don't know
Board shall make reasonable effort to Promote walking to school - school board has to look at the entire district - busses are less expensive
Mr. Newton - Elk Meadows recent boundary change. City problem with needing to supply crossing guards at 10600 S. He said the JSD policy allows for a bus for those south of 10600 S. Intent of item is not to lock things up. Want to make walkable.
Mrs. Whitelock - there are many areas in the district where the walking routes are hazardous, but the state doesn't reimburse at 100%.
Mrs. Pulsipher - the purpose of the memorandum of understanding is to create an environment of collaboration.
Representative Cunningham - this is an unusual situation. No one entity that can take responsibility for this. Put everything behind us, start new, move to next level. Children and grandchildren taken care of. Need to support superintendent in her leading education of students.
Mr. Seethaler - Monday, August 4 is deadline for putting on ballot. Would like to see a conclusion here on what to expect. Society has so many interests, that it is difficult to trust and agree. Quality of education is high. Issues have to do with collaboration. Do not have a good history of being collaborative. SJC has been told to "butt out" of the JSD issues in the past. Next meeting is Tuesday, August 5. SJC will need to call a special council meeting. If the memorandum is not executed, will have to propose split. Wants to discuss high level ideas, then let JSD make edits to the document.
Senator Harper - most are in agreement that splitting would harm students.
Mrs. Kennett - provide cities with information on future buildings. When working on building or purchasing facilities, JSD will share information with cities.
Mrs. Pulsipher - would like the city involved before starting a building process.
Mayor Freeman - would like to have a third party outside the school board to look at the buildings before. We don't have to spend $1 million on a football field or have a college level weight room. Who cares about a 70 year school? Even in 40 years, the demographics will be different. We haven't done our homework. That is why the bond went down in flames.
Mrs. Pulsipher - talking about a 5 year plan. JSD may not know what funding mechanism is going to be used for a school to be built in 5 years. This plan will be updated every year.
Mrs. Kennett - cities should work with district to identify school sites.
Mayor Alvord - wants mayors to speak up about changes if they are uncomfortable signing.
Mayor Applegarth - he will not sign anything today.
Mrs. Pulsipher - concerned about being locked in to a plan, and having to get approval of cities.
Mrs. Whitelock - board is elected and not under the jurisdiction of cities. Cities do not have to approve everything the district does. Discussion and collaboration is good, but not approval.
Mr. Newton - historical problem is the district purchasing prime commercial property. Want discussion with mayors about why school needs to be on certain property.
Mrs. Whitelock - mayors can already attend meetings.
Mr. Seethaler - mayors are welcome in open meetings, but not in closed study sessions, where real estate is usually discussed.
Mrs. Pulsipher - this board is trying to change (emotional voice). We want to change the way doing business. The memorandum says the cities don't trust us.
Mayor Rolfe - strike approval line.
Representative Ivory - he said mayors just need reasonable notice on changes to building plans.
Mayor Applegarth - he doesn't want board making decisions in his city (Riverton), and he respects the boards role.
Mrs. Whitelock - read section on mayor or designee attendance at board meetings. Property could include cities, but only the appropriate city, where potential site is. Mayors should not be included on personnel or appeals items.
Jennifer Boehme - JEA does not want mayors in closed study sessions when negotiations are being discussed.
Mrs. Kennett - wants included that cities must update contact information so that the district is not accused of excluding someone.
Mrs. Pulsipher - dates of meetings being discussed.
Mayor Applegarth - Riverton cannot change their city meetings, because they are already planned for 1st, 3rd, and 4th Tuesdays. He does not want to confuse his residents.
Mrs. Pulsipher - JSD is going from 3 to 2 meetings a month. They are making a sacrifice.
Mayor Applegarth - if he need to attend a meeting when a Riverton meeting is scheduled, he can leave his pro tem in charge and attend the JSD meeting as needed.
Mr. Crane - said JSD moved their meetings to 2nd and 4th Tuesdays to accommodate city meetings.
Mr. Osborn - need to add words about additional special meetings beyond the regularly scheduled meeting.
Mr. Newton - wants mayors to sit on dais at a meeting. Board would need to point at each mayor for input.
Mrs. Whitelock - said it would be easy now because mayors don't show up.
Mrs. Pulsipher - mayors can participate and sit up front. Just have to raise hand to make a comment. Could provide tables and microphones.
Mr. Newton - this makes him uncomfortable. He shouldn't have to raise his hand.
Mrs. Whitelock - we usually raise our hand.
Mayor Alvord - this is the school board.
Mayor Timothy - mayors should already know what's going on. He will not invite JSD board to his closed session, and he does not think JSD should invite them to closed session. If things aren't going the way we want, there is the power of the vote. He knows he is the minority when he says this.
Dr. Johnson - read section on non-school buildings and properties.
Mr. Seethaler - what do you call property you are not going to build a school on?
Mrs. Whitelock - land was acquired for a school, but the plan has changed.
Mr. Newton - wants to find out what JSD board knows in relation to what cities know. The JSD staff has not given some info to board.
Mrs. Kennett - wants cities to provide list of properties for which they are considering RDA, CDA, or EDA to JSD.
Mayor Applegarth - this information has come directly from different entities that want to do the RDA, CDA, and EDA.
Mayor Freeman - someone on his staff meets with JSD staff once a month and provides updates on current and approved development.
Rep. Cunningham - Scott Thomas should report where district is right now on property.
Mr. Bird - this document is a one way street. Nothing in here says the cities have to do anything. He has been to lots of JSD board meetings. He has not seen mayors attend in the last 8 years. No place that says that the city has to tell the district about developments that would impact schools. He would tear it up and walk out of the room. There has been no negotiations.
Mayor Applegarth - this is just the starting point.
Mrs. Whitelock - she doesn't feel this is a discussion. Given a week timeline. JSD board did not get document until 2:00 today. Wants more collaboration.
Mr. Newton - the 6 point SJC resolution was given to JSD board on Friday prior to the July 1 meeting. The details were just received.
Mayor Applegarth - received this draft last Friday at 2:00. Most recent one today at 2:00.
Mr. Crane - estimated value of property is going to be fair market value. This is a moving target.
Mrs. Whitelock - read about selling raw land.
Mrs. Pulsipher - sees the benefit in selling some land, but cities need to see where the land is and what best use is going to be. Already given staff direction to dispose of property know JSD will not used.
Rep. Cunningham - this is getting out of line on this point. Let district evaluate each piece of property.
Mr. Newton - if it is not in there, we won't be required to revisit this.
Rep. Cunningham - meet again if needed. Cut this out and move on.
Mr. Newton - property might be more valuable as commercial property rather than school property.
Mrs. Whitelock - do the mayors really want this in the document? The information will be provided by the district.
Mayor Rolfe - this piece can be removed.
Mayor Timothy - if the designation says type of school, that is the type of school that the land was purchased for (elementary, etc).
Mr. Thomas - will look at all the property and decide if it can be used for a school. Some was purchased 30-40 years ago, and things have changed.
Mayor Alvord - this is important in passing a bond.
Mrs. Kennett - it is more expensive to buy land in 5 years than to hold onto land for 10 years.
Mayor Alvord - this is just advice to get a bond passed.
Sen. Harper - cities should meet at least annually with JSD to look at changes to master plans and different housing types.
Mrs. Voorhies - read item about moving administration buildings to less prime commercial real estate.
Mrs. Whitelock - asked if the administration building at Jordan landing is a problem for West Jordan.
Mayor Rolfe - the building at Jordan landing is fine, but West Jordan would like to redevelop the ASB area.
Mr. Newton - thinks this item needs to stay in the memorandum, because district is spending money on administration buildings that could be spent on schools.
Mrs. Voorhies - would like to strike this item.
Mr. Rolfe - the ASB will not be at 7800 S Redwood in two years.
Mr. Thomas - the July 30 deadline could work as long as being collaborative.
Mr. Crane - read item about facilities construction.
Mrs. Pulsipher - this is where Mr. Freeman's request for third party review would fit.
Rep. Cunningham - new law has to do with accountability to taxpayers. State office of education reviews these plans.
Mrs. Pulsipher - will supply mayors with reports from the Building Utilization and Design committees that met throughout last year.
SJ attorney - new language from Mr. Freeman about committees to review including teachers.
Mrs. Whitelock - who is paying for the costs of these committees?
Mr. Newton - you already pay to make changes to an architect. Reviewing by committee will require less changes.
Mr. Crane - have to make changes to previously used plans based on sites.
Mr. Newton - wants other people to review to keep the fancy stuff out of the schools.
Mayor Applegarth - will not spend city money for these committee meetings. Riverton city would need to have a benefit for any money spent.
Todd Quarnberg - Copper Hills high is 20 years old this year. Missing cafeteria, technology, and storage space. Need to keep pace with technology infrastructure. It is going to take more than 4 walls to build a building. It costs money. There will be 2750 students at CHHS. They along with Bingham and Herriman are three of the largest in the state. He gets about 200 permits from Kearns high, because the facility is better. CHHS is smallest HS by square footage in the district. Theater space is not good. He does not see fluff they are talking about.
Mrs. Pulsipher - is willing to pay costs associated with bringing in experts to review plans.
Mr. Osborn - read item about giving cities info on costs of legal counsel.
Rep. Cunningham - this does not need to be included. All groups have legal counsel.
Mrs. Kennett - read item about supplemental funding from CSD split.
Mr. Crane - said this will be addressed as part of regular budget process.
Mrs. Pulsipher - JSD agreed to original number 6. Strike number 7 (already done with the mutual agreement of Mr. Jolley to leave JSD).
Mayor Applegarth - you are always looking at and evaluating personnel. Look at philosophical changes in board when hiring new staff. Open dialogue with cities. Will address issues as raises by mayors.
Mrs. Pulsipher - give mayors opportunities to meet in closed session about potential personnel issues. (I don't feel comfortable with this at all. I talked to Susan Pulsipher and Peggy Jo Kennett after the meeting about including language that says "district level administration", because the way the statement is currently written would take teacher due process rights away.)
Mr. Osborn - read item about supporting legislation on land use approvals.
Rep. Cunningham - said meet with cities and school districts to write legislation. Traffic issues that are out of control. Willing to pay a little more if getting quality and value. Some lawsuits have come up due to location of some schools, usually charters.
Dr. Johnson - read item about legislation on busing distances.
Mrs. Pulsipher - if reduce elementary requirement from 1.5 miles to 1 mile, then it will cost the district a lot more.
Sen. Osmond's rep - said the 1.5 mile requirement doesn't provide flexibility if a 1.7 mile route was easily walkable and a 1.4 mile route was dangerous.
Mr. Osborn - suggested funding dangerous routes.
Sen. Harper - some of this is out of control. Legislature increased distance from 1 to 1.5 miles and reduced the funding available. This is a big issue.
Mrs. Pulsipher - cities will engage in discussions about statewide equalization legislation.
Mayor Alvord - here because of legislation that cities cannot leave a school district. Will not entertain membership by force in a large district.
Rep. Cunningham - nobody wants to take rights away from anybody. Meetings over last couple of weeks can provide agreement. Greater cause is children and grandchildren. This is not easy. Need to forget what has happened in the past. We have lived through one mess. We don't want to live through another. This involved all on west side. Legislators are united to help the west side on education and infrastructure. Let's get this thing done.
Mrs. Whitelock - thanked everyone for coming. When we sign off, need to know whether a split will be on a ballot or not.
Mayor Alvord - this is a great step. Appreciates the board bending over backward for us. He wants commitment from Sen. Harper to not put legislation forward about the taxing ability being close if a district were to split. Will take this to the SJC council. Does not want the right/ability to split to be taken away. (He would not commit that SJC would not put a split on the ballot.)
Mrs. Voorhies - would like on memorandum an intention from SJC to not split. Give it a couple of years to work. We need assurance. Students will be hurt.
Mr. Applegarth - even if SJ leaves, the rest of the cities will be together. This has been about working with the cities and JSD.
Mayor Freeman - here because of communication problems. Great day. Set precedent today to not let communication break down again. Mayors don't show up because they feel like they are not being heard.
Mrs. Pulsipher - optimistic. Change in procedure and attitude through this memorandum. JSD will become shining star in state.
Rep. Cunningham - has not has one voter tell him that they want to split. How we come about a bond is needed. Needs to be more specific. This is what we are going to do going forward. Need baby steps.
Todd Quarnberg - principals are all friends. If I lose SJ as sister schools, we will be hurt. We stick together. Great friends in Canyons, but those connections have been lost. On a collaborative, grassroots area, high schools are working well together. We are the best district.
Mr. Dearing - thanks for participating and using the Western Growth Coalition to work through these issues. His viewpoint is economic development. Need to be unified in education, because education is connected to economic development.