An agreement allowing Jordan School District middle and high school students to attend Granite district schools may fall apart over a tuition-fee dispute.
At issue is who should pay the $300 fee for Jordan students who want to go to Granite schools - the Jordan School District or the students' parents.For years, Granite has accepted Jordan students into four of its schools. Officials from the two districts say the arrangement was mutually beneficial, because Jordan classrooms were overcrowded while some east-side Granite schools were so underpopulated they were threatened with closure.
Currently, about 2,700 Jordan-area students attend Granite schools. Utah law requires that state funding - monies totaling approximately $1,800 per student - follow the students to their chosen district.
But Granite District spokesman McKell Withers said that the $1,800 doesn't cover the total cost of the students' educations.
And though state law requires the "sending" district to make up those costs beyond what the state provides, the law is vague on what those costs may include, said Jay Jeffery, finance director for the state office of education.
In an effort to even out the funding problem, the two districts last fall decided to limit 1991-92 interdistrict transfers to siblings of Jordan students already attending Granite schools.
If it turned out that more Jordan parents wanted to send their children to Granite, the district boards agreed to hold a second enrollment period in the spring. They also agreed that for each of the students registering during the special enrollment period, Jordan would pay $300 per student to Granite.
It was to be the first time that a fee beyond the basic state funding would be assessed. Granite assumed the money would come out of Jordan's general fund. But Jordan decided instead to charge the parents - something Granite finds unacceptable.
"We have not and still are not requesting families to pay that fee. We feel that parents have already paid that fee through their local taxes," Withers said, adding that Granite may scrap the transfer agreement rather than agree to a levy on the parents.
Jordan District officials say they planned all along to charge the fee to any parents who wanted to enroll their children in Granite schools during the second enrollment period, and last week the district board approved a plan to do just that. About 200 more Jordan District students were expected to register for Granite schools.
"(Granite District) expected Jordan District to just bite the bullet and swallow the fee," said Jordan District spokeswoman Patty Dahl.
Pulling the money out of the general fund would shortchange Jordan students who chose to stay with their home district, she said.
"The costs of running a school bus - there's no difference if there are 70 students riding it instead of 80 students. And the heating - there's no savings if 30 students instead of 40 are in the room. It doesn't cost any less to re-asphalt the parking lot, or to serve five fewer kids in the lunch program.
"I think (Granite) would be hard-pressed to prove that we are operating more cheaply because we are sending 200 more students. And they would be hard-pressed to prove that they are going to be operating more expensively," Dahl said.
Jordan District superintendent Raymond W. Whittenburg is developing a compromise proposal that will be submitted to both district boards, Dahl said.