Jordan School District was split along east-west lines Tuesday, but a similar proposal to create a West Jordan city school district failed, unofficial election results showed.
Fifty-three percent of 40,615 votes posted online by the Salt Lake County clerk favored creating an east-side school district; 47 percent voted against it. The east district would be Utah's 41st.
"We think this is going to open a new era for education that will be very positive," Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore Jr. said. "The nice thing about it is the decision is made and now we can focus on making it really good."
The West Jordan proposal garnered just 30 percent of the 15,031 ballots cast. West Jordan City Councilwoman and Mayor pro-tem Melissa Johnson chalked that up to a lack of information and plan for a new school district.
"Not that the idea of more local control in schools or changing the way the district is managed is a bad idea across the board," she said. She's not ruling out a future breakaway movement.
Voters in Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale, Sandy, Alta and unincorporated Salt Lake County voted to form a new 33,500-student district the state's fifth largest in the name of self-governance. Backers complained the district ignores constituents' concerns and that the west side eats up more tax dollars for buildings due to booming growth.
The Jordan Board of Education opposed the split efforts, noting the district is recognized nationally for high graduation rates, efficiency and quality. It feared a split would hurt programs for students.
The vote was "not to the advantage of students or taxpayers," school board president J. Dale Christensen said. "But you know the Jordan School District continues and will continue to be an outstanding school district, and I can assure you it will remain committed to good education," he said.
The new east district could require $26 million in start-up costs, a feasibility study shows.A pending lawsuit filed by Herriman city and a group of west-side voters, however, challenges the election on one-man, one-vote constitutional grounds. State law did not allow anyone outside proposed new district boundaries basically, those on the west-side outside of West Jordan a vote in the matter.
Contributing: Amelia Nielson-Stowell