Voters Decide Fate of Jordan District Bond Next Week

Oct 30, 2013

Next Tuesday, voters in Jordan School District will choose to support or deny one of the largest bond measures in Utah history. Critics say it’s too much too soon. But a spokeswoman for the school district says the measure is nearly too little, too late.

Earlier this week, mayors in South Jordan, Riverton and Bluffdale published an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune condemning the size of the $495 million bond. And the Utah Taxpayers Association accused the district of refusing to commit to lower-cost construction.

But Jordan School District Spokeswoman Sandy Riesgraf says the district has to keep safety and quality in mind.

“It also has to be a building that will last so we don’t have to come back to the taxpayers for a bond over and over again because these buildings are failing on us,” Riesgraf says.

Early on in the process, the school district developed a number of committees, made up of citizens, teachers and administrators to research building options. The district is calling for eight elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school among other amenities listed on the district website.

But Jordan School District Spokeswoman Sandy Riesgraf says the bond isn’t a blank check.

“With a bond you don’t have to spend all the money,” Riesgraf says. “But right now, we’re growing by almost two elementary schools a year.”

Riverton Mayor Bill Applegarth says there’s no question the growing district needs to bond for new buildings, but he would have liked the district to wait for the committee findings to surface and shrink the price tag by focusing first on immediate needs.

“They’ve listed projects that need to be built, but it’s over a span of the next five to ten years, is what I’ve heard them say,” Applegarth says. “Anything that doesn’t need to be built within the next year or two, I am concerned that we’re giving authorization for that now.”

Sandy Riesgraf says if the bond fails, the district will likely have to implement year-round schedules, and transfer students to more distant schools.