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School District Builds South Jordan School from Capital Reserve, Reviews Bond Proposal

Apr 07, 2016 04:50PM ● Published by Tori La Rue

By Tori La Rue | tori@mycityjournals.com

South Jordan - The Jordan School District Board of Education is seeking feedback about their proposed Five-Year Building Construction Plan before deciding on an official bond amount for the November ballot. 

“We’re trying to be good listeners. This is a community effort,” Susan Pulsipher, president of the board, said. “We want to know what the majority of the community thinks should happen prior to voting on the bond for the ballot. We want it to reflect the will of the community.”

Pulsipher said the new schools are a need. Copper Hills High School has the highest student population in the state, with Herriman High School tailing closely behind in second place, according to data released by the school board. 

“People keep having babies, so we need more rooms, but after the last bond went up in a blaze of not much glory, we sharpened our pencils and looked deep at our finances,” Kayleen Whitelock, board member, said during a West Jordan city council meeting. 

The draft of the school board’s construction plan proposes the building of eight new schools — four elementary schools, three middle schools and one high school — including five schools in the South Valley area, one elementary school in South Jordan and the complete rebuilding of West Jordan Middle School. 

The district listened to resident comments about frugality and cut back on maintenance and other operation costs in order to fund two elementary schools entirely on capital reserve, Steve Dunham, communications manager for the district, said. The total construction cost for both schools is projected between $29 and $35 million, a more than 17 percent decrease from the cost of the district’s newest school — Blackridge Elementary — according to Pulsipher. 

“There’s a lot of reasons why the bond failed last time, but the district has now shown us that they can build two schools without bonding,” parent Allison Arsenault said. “Unfortunately, they can’t do that for all of the schools, but it’s still incredible.”

Arsenault said she’s a proponent of the new schools and of a building bond because she’s seen how cramped quarters affected the quality of education her children received. Arsenault’s children attended East Lake Elementary School when the student population was close to 1,400. The teachers’ lounge was being used as a classroom, and the school stage was being used as a teachers’ lounge, she said. 

Arsenault of South Jordan was on the Elementary Design Committee, a group formed by the district to give recommendations on how the new schools should be built. The committee toured schools in the state and decided which features of schools should and should not be included in the new schools, Arsenault said. 

The committee liked the building designs that put safety first, had natural lighting and made good use of collaboration areas, Arsenault said. Overall, the committee liked the layout of Fox Hollow Elementary School the best, and recommended the district pattern their new buildings after it.

The district’s secured land for the two elementary schools that are being funded on capital reserve at 10200 South 5000 West in South Jordan, tentatively known as the Creekside Elementary School, and at 12390 South 5690 West in Herriman, tentatively known as Anthem Elementary School, Pulsipher said.   

Construction on these two schools will begin during the 2016–17 school year, and they will open in the 2017–18 year, according to the building plan.  

The bond amount that will be proposed to fund the other six schools is yet to be determined, but, according to Pulsipher, the school board will determine the details of the bond before May, and it will be on the November ballot. The draft of the building plan estimates that it will take between $208 to $247.2 million to construct these schools, not including furnishings. 

Residents may review the building plan by searching for “Five-Year Building Construction Plan” on www.jordandistrict.org, and may contact the school board with feedback using the board members’ contact information located under the Board of Education tab on the same site.    

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