SANDY Data released by the Jordan School District west-side transition team Wednesday morning outlines the west side's potential financial struggles but the east-side transition team chairman is challenging how the numbers are being used.
East transition team chairman Steve Newton says he is "outraged" by the west team's data presentation. "They 'forgot' to mention some things," he said. "You need to compare apples to apples."
In November, east-side residents voted to leave Jordan School District and form their own school district. Since then, the east and west sides of the district have not been able to agree on how to split assets and liabilities.
The east side contends it is suffering from declining enrollment and aging school buildings. The west side says it is worried about predicted rapid enrollment growth and the lack of school buildings to house the student influx.
West transition team chairman Ralph Haws said, "The data we shared is accurate and up to date. It clearly represents the concerns we have about the financial structure when the split takes place."
The tax impact of the Jordan district split for 2008-09 has Jordan district receiving $1,453 per student in tax revenue; the east side getting $1,948 per student in tax revenue; and the west side getting $1,101 per student in tax revenue, according to Burke Jolley, Jordan district deputy superintendent for business services, who presented the data Wednesday morning.
However, Newton says the west side is set to receive an additional $12.2 million in annual revenue in equalization funds. Under SB48, nongrowing school districts are to help out a rapidly growing district. The stagnating East Jordan District, along with Granite, Murray and Salt Lake City School Districts, will have to aid West Jordan District financially, starting in 2009.
Plus, West Jordan District is slated to receive $7.5 million in special "add-on" funds from the state for being small and fast-growing, according to Newton.
He says, with those extra monies, West Jordan District's per-student tax revenue would actually be $1,515. This is $62 more than the original Jordan district's per-student tax revenue.
"Their 'woe is me' scenario is just plain wrong," Newton said. "They don't have any problems."
Jolley said the financial presentation was simplified for the public to understand easily. Further, the two funding opportunities are not a done deal and could change. "We haven't received those funds before," Jolley said. "We don't know if they will even be in existence next year."
Newton says the west side will have to prove its data when or if the two parties go to arbitration.
"They aren't going to be able to blow smoke to the arbitrator. No more games," he said. "They will have to prove their figures. They will be cross-examined."
Jolley said, "These are real numbers black and white."
By law, the transition teams must each choose an arbitrator by Sept. 1. There is still leeway, however, for the two teams to come up with a plan and use it even after arbitrators have been selected.Mayors of the east and west cities in Jordan district have agreed on a plan to divide the district's assets and liabilities. They aim to present their proposal to the two transition teams on Friday.
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