A group of negotiators working to break an impasse over how to split Jordan School District assets may have come up with a plan to get the whole thing done in one fell swoop.
That is, if both east- and west-side transition teams give the green light on a plan scheduled to be presented in a joint meeting Thursday.
"They've divided everything. They have. It's done. That's what they're telling me," east-side transition team chairman Steve Newton said of the negotiations team. "This is huge, I'm telling you. I'm not sleeping. ... Either they're going to make this really easy, or, if they've put this together and their teams don't accept them, we're probably going to litigation."
West-side transition team chairman Ralph Haws, who was in Las Vegas on Thursday, had not yet spoken to negotiators from his side. All he knows is something will be presented to both sides Thursday. In fact, no one but the negotiators will know what the proposal is until that time.
"What that is, what it involves, I have no idea," Haws said. But he thinks whatever the proposal is, it can be worked on if deemed unacceptable.
"I don't think we're in a position yet to say we're going to arbitration. I think we're a long ways away from that. But we do want to move it along."
Last November, the east side voted to secede from the state's largest school district. Transition teams representing the east and west sides have been working to "fairly and equitably" divide up what the district owns and owes, as state law requires.
But that process has not been smooth. Questions have arisen on just how to make it fair. For instance, should properties be split up based on geography, or should one side compensate the other for having more rundown or overcrowded buildings? Legislators attempted to answer some of these questions, particularly, the date on which assets should be assessed and split up. Those dates ended up being the most controversial part of SB71, and at least the east side walked away unhappy.
Meanwhile, the transition teams could not agree on rules of asset distribution. Impasse ensued. Both sides appointed two people each to a negotiating team to work out a compromise.
The negotiators went a step further, Newton said.
"I think they may have found it easier to, rather than arguing over the individual factors to take into consideration ... they've negotiated a deal," Newton said.
The deal is to remain secret until Thursday's meeting, scheduled for 10 a.m. at Jordan District offices. The two teams will not debate the proposal at that time. Instead, they will individually discuss it later on (though Haws said his team might meet right after the proposal is rolled out), then come back for another joint meeting.If both sides come to agreement, then the first task of splitting the district could be over.