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Plans to move Jordan school boundaries rile some parents

Published January 5, 2014 9:58 pm

With $495M bond failure, moving boundaries is one strategy for handling growth.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Jolynne Alger hopes the days of her children sitting elbow-to-elbow with other kids at lunch at crowded Eastlake Elementary are numbered.

"This needs to be done," Alger said of proposed school boundary changes in the Jordan School District.

Not everyone, however, feels the same way.

Parents across the district have been vocalizing support and opposition to the proposed changes — driven in part by the November failure of a $495 million bond. This week, parents and district leaders will discuss the proposals at open houses Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

The issue? Rapid growth on the district's west and south sides is expected to continue for at least another decade. The district had hoped to build 11 new schools, but the bond's failure has left leaders trying to accommodate growth in other ways.

Four schools — Elk Meadows, Terra Linda, Oakcrest and a new elementary school in Herriman — might move to year-round schedules next school year. More portable classrooms will likely be added to some schools.

But most notably the district is also considering boundary changes that could affect 14 existing schools and as many as 2,600 students.

At least one group of parents from Elk Meadows Elementary in South Jordan aren't happy with any of the four proposals put forth by the district. About 100 parents recently met to brainstorm alternatives.

Jamie Larsen doesn't want to see her fifth-grader have to transfer to another school for sixth grade and then end up in a different middle school than his current Elk Meadows classmates. Also, most of the proposals would make Elk Meadows much more crowded, she said.

"We're wondering why we're taking the brunt of the growth when we live in established areas," said Larsen, who lives in the Vista West neighborhood in West Jordan and helped organize a group of Elk Meadows parents speaking out. "It seems like the district is making it more comfortable for people who live in growing areas."

Larsen said she and others are working on alternate proposals to discuss at the open houses this week.

Sandy Riesgraf, a Jordan spokeswoman, said district leaders are open to suggestions. The district sent parents letters before Christmas explaining the proposals, is asking parents to fill out surveys about them and inviting them to the three open houses this week.

"We're thrilled people are taking the time to get involved in the process," Riesgraf said. "We're trying to come up with the options that have the least impact on families involved, and we realize they will impact families and it's not easy."

She said the district isn't "trying to discriminate against one side or another" geographically, but rather trying to balance populations across the district.

Alger, for one, supports the proposals. She said at crowded Eastlake, students frequently must move classrooms and the faculty room has been turned into a classroom. She said she sympathizes with those whose children might have to change schools, but she said the boundaries must be changed for the good of the district as a whole.

Leesa Leonard, whose children also attend Eastlake, said she also supports the proposals even though they mean her children will likely have to shift schools. She said Eastlake is just too crowded.

"This has not come out of left field," Leonard said. "Under the circumstances, these options are very well thought out."

She said she fought during boundary changes two years ago to keep her kids at Eastlake, but she knew they wouldn't be able to stay there indefinitely.

In fact, the district changes school boundaries pretty much every year, said Steve Dunham, a district spokesman. But usually the changes only affect a few schools at a time.

Riesgraf noted that changes would have been necessary this year even had the bond passed because it would have taken time to build the new schools.

Leonard said she didn't support the bond because it seemed too broad. She said she'd like to see the district propose a smaller, more specifically targeted bond. Larsen said she thinks there would be more support for a future bond as well.

Riesgraf said the board has not yet discussed whether to pursue another bond. Board president Richard Osborn said he was not available for comment on the issues last week.

The board may decide how to shift boundaries at its Jan. 28 meeting, Riesgraf said.

lschencker@sltrib.com —

Learn more about Jordan boundary proposals

Open houses • The Jordan School District will hold open houses this week to help parents learn about and discuss proposed boundary changes. All run from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on these dates: Jan. 7, Elk Ridge Middle School; Jan. 8, Copper Mountain Middle School; Jan. 9, South Jordan Middle School.

Survey • Patrons can also go to www.jordandistrict.org to fill out surveys about the proposals.

Hearing • The district will also hold a public hearing on the issues on Jan. 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the Board Room at the Jordan District Auxiliary Services Building, 7905 South Redwood Road, West Jordan.




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