The Jordan School District's decision to build the new east-side high school on property costing the district about $3.8 million shocked and angered some city officials from southwest Salt Lake County.
"We don't get a fair shake on the west side," said Riverton City Councilman Russ Peterson Jr. Hundreds of Riverton and South Jordan residents unsuccessfully lobbied the district to build the new west-side high school in Riverton. The west-side school will be built in West Jordan on the New Bingham Highway.School board member Maureen Jensen spoke out against the decision to buy the east-side property, on State Street in Sandy.
"Before we talked about two high schools, two middle schools and an elementary school," she said. "Now I don't hear us talking about an elementary school. We're doing it (buying the property) at the sacrifice of terribly needed elementary schools."
Every elementary school on the west side is already on year-round schedule. The district had planned to build a new elementary school in Riverton to replace one that is substandard. The east-side high school will replace Jordan High.
South Jordan city administrator Tony Murphy said that to understand the anger of the residents of the south west end of the valley, one must understand the severity of the problem.
"Jordan School District is not meeting the needs of schoolchildren on the west side of the valley," Murphy said. There will be about 1,500 new homes built this year in Riverton, South Jordan and West Jordan. Many of those homes will house school-age children.
Riverton Mayor James Warr said residents of Riverton really didn't get anything out of the bond.
"They've always served the east side better than the west side. It just comes down to politics," Warr said. "If I had my way, I think the southwest quadrant should split off and form its own school district."
Warr said he'll support a protest of the district's decision by residents.
In addition to purchase price, both pieces of property will require preparations approximately $4.5 million in preparations.
District officials had budgeted about $5.5 million for the purchase and preparation for each site. Jensen said they are talking about scaling back both high schools in order to stay within the bond limits. The Jordan District bond passed last year and was the largest in the state's history.
"If the bond was to come up again today, they (residents of Riverton and South Jordan) wouldn't vote for it, based on how the school board has acted," Peterson said.