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East-west disparity debunked

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There is no great ethnic and socio-economic disparity between the east and west sides of Jordan School District, according to testimony given in arbitration hearings Thursday.

Jason Burningham, with the municipal securities firm Lewis, Young, Robertson & Burningham, wrote a feasibility study commissioned by the east-side transition team in preparation for the Jordan District split.

During testimony Thursday, Burningham pointed to data that shows there is not a big difference in race, income and prices of homes.

"Are we creating a real disparity between districts (by splitting)? Our determination is no, we are not," Burningham said.

For example, the median price of an east-side home is $140,000 to $240,000 compared to the median price of a west-side home at $155,000 to $260,000. "Substantially the same," he said.

The taxable value of the east and west is predicted to become fairly equal by the year 2012, and eventually the west-side taxable value will grow greater than the east side, he said.

Burningham said commercial development will follow west-side home construction, noting the Jordan Landing shopping center as an example.

As an aside, he added that west-side homes have more square footage for the same cost as smaller east-side homes.

The feasibility study, dated May 2006, can be viewed at www.canyonsdistrict.org/downloads/documents.html

Burningham is a member of the east-side transition team which was formed by leaders in cities on the east side of Jordan District. The east-side district is now called Canyons School District.

The east and west transition teams attempted several times to reach an agreement earlier this year on splitting Jordan District's assets and liabilities. The teams finally opted for arbitration, which began Monday.

Hearings are scheduled to continue Friday, with testimony from real estate valuation experts.

Arbitration will take a break Monday, resume Tuesday and could finish as early as Thursday, according to attorneys.

The panel of three arbitrators could then take weeks to announce their decision, say transition team members.

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

E-mail: astewart@desnews.com