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School district won't sell to LDS church or Summum

By Molly Farmer and Nkoyo Iyamba | Posted - Aug. 17, 2011 at 5:01 p.m.



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DRAPER -— A parcel of land near the high school under construction in Draper is not for sale, despite two churches' expressed interest in purchasing it, the Canyons District school board decided Tuesday.

In a closed meeting, the board discussed inquiries made by Salt Lake City-based faiths The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Summum. Each expressed interest in purchasing the a plot from the district for a religious seminary high school students could attend. The board decided it will sell to neither.

But the Canyons School District said their decision has nothing to do with religion.

"This is the first time that the board of education even talked about the possibility of selling that land. We have two interested buyers and no interested seller," Canyons District spokeswoman Jennifer Toomer-Cook said.

Prior to Tuesday's meeting, Toomer-Cook said the board had initially reserved the parcel for use by a religious organization.

"The Canyons Board of Education's intent from the beginning has been to reserve a portion of land for use by a religious organization for released time religious instruction," she said in a prepared statement.

The board decided Tuesday there is no "excess land" at the site of the school, so there is no land to sell.

Toomer-Cook says that decision does not proclude either religion from buying land near the school.

Utah law allows students in public schools, grades nine through 12, to have "released time" for off-site religious instruction.

In a statement today, the LDS church said

"While the Church anticipates providing seminary opportunities for students attending the new high school, we have yet to announce plans for a new building."

Ron Temu with the religous group Summum says his group doesn't plan on pursuing a religious building on high school campuses.

"But that doesn't mean we're not going to do it in the future. We just saw this opportunity to maybe do something on the property since it was going to be open for other religions, we assumed," Temu said

Still, there are those who think the canyons school board made the wrong decision.

"I think they should have both," said said Melissa Boam, who plans to attend the high school in two years. "I think it'd be great to learn about both religions because it's an opportunity to get more education and knowledge is power."

Story written with contributions from Molly Farmer and [Nkoyo Iyamba](<mailto: niyamba@ksl.com>)

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