New board member ready to serve, ready to listenFeb 06, 2023 02:34PM ● By Jet Burnham
Jordan District Board of Education District 7 Representative Lisa Dean is sworn in on Jan. 10. (Sandy Riesgraf/JSD Communications)
Lisa Dean was elected to fill the vacancy left by Jen Atwood as the Jordan School District Board of Education District 7 Representative for the West Jordan area.
“I know her heart as a community member and as a mom, and I think she'll do a fantastic job,” said Atwood, who has worked with Dean on local school PTA boards and school community councils.
Dean is jumping into the position on the heels of the board’s difficult decision to close West Jordan Elementary School. She will serve on the committee tasked with determining what to do with the school property and is eager to get input from community members.
“It's my constituency, it's the people that I'm elected to represent, so I want them to get the best possible outcome for the most people,” Dean said.
As a graduate of West Jordan High School, Dean is aware of the declining enrollment and aging buildings in the east West Jordan area.
“I remember back in the ‘80s, when I was in high school and junior high, it was packed,” she said. “The development was crazy, the schools were really full, there were tons of kids in the neighborhoods, and now it's just not like that anymore. That's just how things go.”
With her own children currently attending West Jordan High School, Joel P. Jensen Middle School and Columbia Elementary School, Dean understands the unique challenges of the West Jordan feeder system, including the needs of English language learners and Title One schools.
Dean worked as a math aide at both West Jordan High and Joel P. Jensen Middle, and has served regularly as a classroom volunteer, PTA member and school council member at many West Jordan area schools.
“I've seen what is actually happening in classrooms and in hallways,” Dean said.
The board is working to address the needs of the east West Jordan area of the district. With the closure of West Jordan Elementary, they plan to make building improvements to the elementary schools that are absorbing the displaced students.
West Jordan High, built in 1981, is the next priority for major building improvements now that the Bingham High School building, which is four years older, has been updated. Resurfacing West Jordan High School’s track is already on the schedule for this summer.
Board Vice President Niki George, who serves on the facilities committee, said it will take a few years and will be a one-step-at-a-time process, but improving the West Jordan High School building for the community is a priority.
“We want them to walk into their school and feel like first class citizens,” she said. “The hope is that we can give them a facelift that makes it comparable to any school in the state of Utah in function and in aesthetics.”
Dean said the decisions she will make as a board member will be directed by people’s ideas, expert opinions and data.
“I'm very open-minded,” Dean said. “I'm very interested in all opinions, and I like to hear everybody's point of view. I think that in every situation there's more than one possible good outcome.”
Dean has started a newsletter to keep community members informed about what the board is doing and discussing. Request to receive the newsletter at [email protected].
“I just feel very humbled and excited to be on the board,” Dean said. “I hope to learn a lot and I hope to listen a lot. I want to hear what people think, people's ideas. I know that the board doesn't solve people's individual problems, but I'm still willing to listen to what people want to tell me anyway.”
Dean has a BA in Spanish with a math minor from BYU. She joined the Utah Army National Guard and studied Arabic at the Defense Language Institute.
She comes from a civically-minded family. Her father was a city councilman for West Jordan and her sister served on the Provo School Board and is now a state legislator. Another sister is a teacher at West Jordan High School.
Dean is not the only new member of the seven member board. Brian W. Barnett was elected as the new district 2 representative for the Riverton and Bluffdale area. Tracy J. Miller was re-elected to represent district 3 (Riverton and South Jordan areas) and, last month, was elected to serve as board president for another term.