SANDY — The west transition team voted Thursday to reject the mayors' plan for dividing assets and liabilities of Jordan School District.

The west team's decision puts both sides of Jordan District on a direct path toward arbitration.

"The transition team does not believe that it would be fair or equitable for the west side to pay the east side $33 million. Accordingly, the west side has determined to proceed to arbitration," said west transition team chairman Ralph Haws.

He explained that after the district is split, the west side will have more students "but fewer tax dollars with which to educate those children."

East transition team chairman Steve Newton was not available for comment Thursday night.

Haws said he feels confident the arbitrators will do a fair examination of the issue. The factors include: student populations, assessed value of taxable property, amount of property used to deliver educational services to students and value of school buildings and associated property.

East-siders attending the meeting said they were disappointed in the west team's action.

"We are trying to form a new school district, and it would be nice to have this settled and behind us," said East Jordan School Board member Kim Horiuchi. Horiuchi works at the Deseret News as a weekend wire editor.

Mike Shelton, east transition team member, said, "Arbitration is an unfortunate thing."

The east transition team plans to meet this afternoon to discuss arbitration issues.

Each transition team faces a legal mandate to choose an arbitrator by Monday. There is still leeway, however, for the two teams to come up with a plan and use it even after arbitrators have been selected.

The mayors' plan calls for the west side to give $33 million to the east side, to be paid over a 15-year period with no interest, beginning with the 2009-2010 budget year.

The proposed plan gives each district ownership of all property and buildings within their boundaries.

The proposal further requires the east side to continue paying its share of the $281 million in bond funding approved by voters in 2003.

In November, east-side residents voted to leave Jordan 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 projected rapid enrollment growth and the lack of school buildings to house the student influx.

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