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Arbitrator is weary of Jordan squabbles

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After only two days of hearings, at least one arbitrator is getting fed up as the Canyons and Jordan School districts continue to squabble.

Wrapping up hearings Tuesday evening, arbitrator Michael Zimmerman told attorneys he had heard enough attacking and blame.

"The panel generally understands all those allegations and suggestions of motivation," said Zimmerman. An attorney and former chief justice of the Utah Supreme Court, Zimmerman was chosen by the Canyons School District.

Further, after about four hours of testimony on seismic issues afflicting Jordan District school buildings, Zimmerman asked attorneys if they couldn't "trim the detail."

The three arbitrators have read the depositions, he said. "We're being paid to sit here but we want to be done," Zimmerman said.

The arbitration process, meant to help the west-side Jordan and east-side Canyons split assets and liabilities, could run through Dec. 19.

Attorney David Jordan, representing Jordan District, said he could cut some witnesses. "I'm in the culling process," he said.

Jordan mentioned axing David Doty, the recently named superintendent of the Canyons District. Also potentially on the chopping block is Canyons board member Ellen Wallace, who has served on the Jordan board for years.

Canyons attorneys, however, pointed out that cross-examining the witnesses can't be done via a deposition.

The two sides agreed to arbitration after attempting several times to negotiate an agreement over the past year.

Jordan's chosen arbitrator is Darrell White. He is the former interim president of the Utah College of Applied Technology, former superintendent of Davis, Box Elder, North Summit and Sevier school districts, and former deputy for education to Gov. Olene S. Walker.

The third arbitrator, selected by White and Zimmerman, is accountant Alan Funk.

Canyons contends it is suffering from declining enrollment and aging school buildings. Jordan says it is worried about predicted rapid enrollment growth and the lack of school buildings to house the student influx.

In November 2007, east-side residents voted to leave Jordan District and form their own school district. The division will be official on July 1, 2009.


E-mail: astewart@desnews.com