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Jordan School District Says Bond Failed Because of Misinformation, Low Turnout

The $495 million Jordan School District Bond failed to get the support of voters in Tuesday’s election.  District officials say lower-than-expected voter turnout and misinformation killed it. 

The latest tallies show only about 32 percent of voters favored the bond. The growing district is calling for eight new elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school. Steven Dunham is a spokesperson for the Jordan School District.

“I think that the results show more that people did not understand the facts,” Dunham says. “Truly I think we maybe hurried things a little too much and didn’t take the time necessary to educate our parents and patrons about the crisis we’re facing with growth in the school district.”

Back in June, about 77 percent of those polled in a Jordan School District survey said they would support a bond of this size. But that enthusiasm didn’t play out at the polls. Dunham says the misconception is that the district was asking the public to fill a list of wants rather than needs.

“And really these are our needs for the school district,” Dunham says. “We came forward with those needs and those needs aren’t going to change.”

In the weeks leading to the election, the mayors of Bluffdale, South Jordan and Riverton railed against the bond. And the Utah Taxpayer’s Association launched an anti-bond campaign as well. They began circulating a graph that Royce Van Tassell, vice-president of the organization, says illustrates the tax rates that would be necessary to pay for the bond.

“And voters understood just how significant this is,” Van Tassell says. “They would have had the highest tax rate in the state.”

District officials say the graph likely confused voters because it failed to illustrate how the bond repayments would be spread out over a period of five to six years.

Van Tassell says his organization became involved in the Jordan School District bond when the district declined to consider implementing trimester schedules and use cheaper building materials.

Steven Dunham says since the bond failed, the district will likely be weighing options like year-round class schedules and double school day sessions.   

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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