In choosing a slogan, the east and west sides of Jordan School District could perhaps go with "no deal."

The two districts can't agree on temporarily sharing office space and services such as payroll, transportation and maintenance.

"We just don't see eye to eye on issues," said Dave Doty, superintendent of the east-side Jordan District, now called the Canyons School District.

"Life will go on," said Carmen Freeman, west-side Jordan board vice president.

The west-side board will lease space to house district offices in an old strip mall at 7800 S. Redwood Road for three years. It plans to eventually build permanent offices on 37 acres it owns at 13000 South and 4000 West in Riverton.

In November, east-side residents voted to leave Jordan District and form their own school district. Since then, the east and west sides have not been able to agree on splitting assets and liabilities. Arbitration is scheduled for December.

The Jordan District division will be official July 1, with the west side remaining as Jordan District and the east side being the Canyons District. Until then, there are three school boards: the Canyons, the original Jordan board and the west-side Jordan board.

In the latest transaction, the west-side Jordan board sent a proposal to the Canyons board Oct. 8. The plan calls for sharing 21 district-level departments for two years. The employees would be hired and supervised by Jordan District.

Building space for shared services would be rent free at the current Jordan District offices, which reside in what will soon be the Canyons' boundaries. Any maintenance and repair costs would be paid by the Canyons District. The west-side Jordan District would pay $100,000 annually to the Canyons for space or equipment it solely uses, according to the proposal.

The letter gave the Canyons an Oct. 31 deadline to respond. West-side Jordan board members say they were advised by district auxiliary services they need seven months to find a new home.

The Canyons board responded Oct. 29, saying it generally agreed to the terms but would like more time to discuss the issue. It also suggested the west-side Jordan board's proposal be included in the ongoing negotiations between the two districts — and potentially resolve the conflict themselves to avoid arbitration.

The west-side board sent a letter back Oct. 30 saying it didn't like that idea.

"They wanted to tie sharing business services to splitting assets," west-side Jordan board President Peggy Jo Kennett said.

It's not up to the boards to split assets at this point, Kennett said. "That's something that needs to be done by the arbitration panel because the transition teams could not come to a decision," she said.

Jordan District Superintendent Barry Newbold agreed. "At this stage, the processes are separate and distinct."

Doty told the Deseret News there were several issues he and the Canyons board believe deserved further discussion in the potential agreement to share services. They include the length of the shared services; the manner in which employees providing services be supervised; and sharing costs 50/50 when 41 percent of the original Jordan District's students would be in the Canyons District.

"We liked the idea of sharing services," Doty said. "We just wanted to work out the details."

And why not "get creative" and wrap it all together in an all-encompassing agreement "for everyone's best interest?" he said. "Let's take it out of the hands of arbitrators. You would think they (west-side Jordan board) would at least want to discuss these things. But it looks like arbitration is where we're headed."

In the ongoing conflict of splitting 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.

Canyons District comprises Cottonwood Heights, Sandy, Midvale, Alta and Draper.

The west-side Jordan District consists of Bluffdale, Herriman, Riverton, South Jordan and West Jordan, as well as the township of Copperton.


E-mail: astewart@desnews.com