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Jordan School District Prepares to Split

Jordan School District Prepares to Split



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Courtney Orton and Andrew Adams reporting Students in Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale, Sandy and Alta will now be part of their own east side school district. Fifty-three percent of east side voters favored creating an east side district, 47 percent did not.

The district split obviously comes with mixed emotions, but transition teams on both sides will start working toward the July 1, 2009 operation date.

Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore said, "There is a lot to do. There is no question there is a lot to do."

One item on the "to do" list is the divvying up of assets, and with a $1 billion budget and billions of dollars worth of assets it's a job the Jordan School District, who opposed the split, says will not be an easy process.

"It's like a divorce: you're setting up two households, and what we want to affirm for parents is that while we're doing the dividing we will do our very best, like we always have, to educate their students," explained Melinda Colton, spokesperson for the Jordan School District.

Those in favor of the brand new east side district say the legislation spells it all out. "The reality is the legislation says that physical facilities within the boundaries of the district stay with that district. Well, that's 75 percent of the assets we're talking about," Cullimore said.

There are other concerns: What will the name of the new district be? What happens to the current district building that resides in the new east side school district? What happens to the current district employees?

Also, what about those special programs that are exclusive to the Jordan District? Programs like the technical centers and the district's International Baccalaureate program?

"Again, you're going to have transition teams that will have attorneys and accountants and all kinds of people who will have to work out all of those minute details," Colton said.

Cullimore isn't worried, though. "I think those concerns can be alleviated in the next little while," he said.

Meanwhile, some west side parents with children in the Jordan district are angry at the east side's vote to split. "Yeah, that bugs me," parent Angela Howells said.

Jennifer Harding, also a west side parent, said it's ironic. "We didn't do it to them when they had all of the kids," she said.

Another parent, Marni Fisher, agreed, but sees a silver lining. "We might be paid attention to a little more, and they may recognize our needs a little more," Fisher said.

East side parents said local control is one of the main reasons they voted for the split. They also want more of their money going to their kids.

Herriman City and a group of west side voters have filed a federal lawsuit. They call the vote unconstitutional because they didn't get to vote on the issue.

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