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REDRAWING THE STATE LINE NOT BEST BET FOR WENDOVER

It's always easier to let someone else deal with an unpleasant situation. It's called passing the buck. But when it comes to taking responsibility for educating Utah children, the buck stops at the state line.

A recent Deseret News/KSL poll indicated that 51 percent of the 608 Utahns surveyed said they favor Wendover, Utah, being annexed by West Wendover, Nev.There are myriad reasons for supporting the idea: Wendover and West Wendover form a relatively small community divided by the Utah/Nevada state line and unequal living standards; both towns are isolated from the larger metropolitan areas of their respective states; gambling is legal in Nevada but not in Utah, and revenue from casinos provides much better public facilities on the west than on the east.

But the biggest problem for Utah families living on the east side of the state line is that an agreement for educating Utah and Nevada children, which has allowed all high school students to attend a high school in Utah and all younger children to attend school in Nevada, has expired.

The Tooele School District now plans to put all Utah children in elementary and high-school grades in one building - the former high school - with additional portable structures. The district says it does not have enough money to build a new elementary school.

That's an inconvenient and possibly dangerous situation, and Wendover residents are understandably unhappy about it.

Some, including the mayor and at least two City Council members, are supporting redrawing the state line to put the entire community in Nevada, but that would be a ridiculous overreaction to what should be a solvable problem.

A better solution, and one that should be pursued by Tooele School District and state officials, is to draft another agreement with Elko County in Nevada to share education services across the border.

The Nevadans are building a new high school. Residents on both sides of the state line work side by side in casinos and other businesses, and the community is closely bound by proximity. Considering those facts, an agreement to reimburse West Wendover and Elko County for the cost of educating Utah students makes sense.

Surveys have shown Nevada officials aren't enthusiastic about the possibility of redrawing the state line, which would require nothing less than an act of Congress.

They may be more amenable to another agreement that would benefit themselves and their neighbors, and it would be less expensive - financially and emotionally - than a drawn-out debate over moving the state line.