On Nov. 6, the cities of Midvale, Cottonwood Heights, Sandy, Draper, Alta and the unincorporated county within Jordan School District will vote on whether to split from the district and form their own stand-alone one. Meanwhile, voters in West Jordan will decide whether to form their own school district contiguous to the city's boundaries.
These proposals are troubling on many levels. First, the communities not able to vote on this issue will most likely experience significantly larger property tax bills to pay for ongoing school construction on the fast-growing west side. In the past, the entire school district has shouldered that responsibility. Under a split scenario, the relatively poorer areas of the old district would have to go it alone. They would get a tax increase and no say-so.
Worse, the Legislature, in its last special session, punted on establishing a school equalization formula that could have cushioned the blow of a tax increase for those who remained in the Jordan District. The matter was set aside for further study, which may turn out to be a good thing. But should the election go on when there is no remedy in place for assisting communities that will be affected by the vote but have no choice in the matter?
Absent a federal court order to halt the vote or the counting of the ballots (the matter is before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals regarding its constitutionality), the best course, for now, is to vote "No" on the district split.
Too much is at stake to do this incorrectly. This is not merely a matter of taxes but a drastic shift in public school policy. All school patrons and property owners in the Jordan School District deserve the benefit of knowing how or if the matter of building equalization will be addressed by the Legislature before breakaway districts are established.