WEST JORDAN, Utah – The Jordan School District is planning to build more schools to accommodate the growing number of students. But who is going to pick up the tab?
Susan Pulsipher is the board president for Jordan School District, one of the state’s largest districts.
Nearly 53,000 students are enrolled in the district this year. That’s 1,000 more than last year.
“It's always a challenge when you have a lot of growth in your area because it means you have to build schools,” Pulsipher said.
Over the next five years, Jordan School District plans to build four new elementary schools in South Jordan, Herriman and Bluffdale.
They’ll also build two new middle schools, one in South Jordan and one in West Jordan. And they’ll add a high school in Herriman.
District leaders said they can finance two of the elementary schools on their own. They’ll break ground in South Jordan and Herriman next year.
But they may need to ask residents to pick up the tab for the other projects.
“We certainly won't be able to buy all of those with existing funds,” Pulsipher said.
Some residents may not be willing to finance the new schools. In 2013, residents rejected a $500 million bond.
“The thing that killed it was there was a flyer that said, 'Why are you building a Taj Mahal?'” said Dave Alvord, South Jordan City Mayor.
District leaders say this time, they’re keeping costs as low as possible, and they will assess their needs each year based on growth.
“We don't know what that number will be, but it will not be $500 million,” Pulsipher said.
Amy Coverston lives in Herriman, and she spoke about the issue.
“I’ve got kids, so that’s a priority for me," she said.
The mother of five voted for the bond.
“I think the district has tried real hard to plan and anticipate," she said. "It's just getting the taxpayers on board with it."
South Jordan almost left the district to form their own, but they decided to ride it out. And, so far, they’re on board with the district’s vision.
“If we don't keep on pace with those needs, it could actually hurt our chances for property value and growth,” Alvord said.
District leaders say they’ve learned lessons after the failed bond and realize people want transparency. That’s why they’ve come up with this 5-year plan so people know where schools will be built and what they will cost.