People on Jordan District's west side had no say whether east-side communities could form their own school district. Now, they're being asked to swallow a huge tax increase or cut services under a divorce agreement that divides the district's assets. It's hardly a surprise that west-side representatives have balked at the proposed joint resolution over assets and liabilities.
But it leaves the respective parties at an impasse. The odds of reconciliation are nil. Apparently, so are the chances the negotiating team can come up with a solution that is suitable to both sides, although there had been agreement on many recommendations.
Like most divorces, it may be impossible to negotiate a win-win for the respective parties. There is a lot of heartburn about this school district split within the existing district and the rest of Salt Lake County. Under new legislation, the Granite, Murray and Salt Lake school districts are also on the hook financially to help ease the pain of the split. They get nothing for their contributions.
Meanwhile, the clock ticks. There needs to be some resolution regarding the division of assets and the Jordan District's debt. It is doubtful that people left in the remaining school district have any appetite to reimburse the new school district to the tune of $112 million. This is particularly distasteful after an east-side feasibility study released in May 2007 said the new school district would be financially viable. Mediation may very well be the best option.
Hopefully, this ordeal will be instructive to other groups that might contemplate seceding from their own school districts. There are many different means to solve problems when a "marriage" is intact. School boards and school administrators need to redouble their efforts to ensure patrons feel their concerns are heard and addressed. They must be careful stewards with tax revenue.
At the end of the day, whatever decisions are made in Jordan District whether by a negotiation team or mediation must be in the best interest of students. Everyone in a decision-making capacity, regardless of whether they are from the east or west sides should make the welfare of all schoolchildren their guiding principle.