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After more than 100 years, the Jordan School District has ceased to be. A majority of voters embraced the idea of a new east-side district Tuesday that will split Jordan in two, according to unofficial election results.

With all precincts reporting, the tally was 53 percent in favor to 47 percent against.

"I think we've opened a new era for education," said Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore, whose east-side city was among those seeking to form a new school district. "We're going to move in a new direction away from the status quo. . . . What this does is bring governments and education closer to the citizens on both sides of the district."

Parent Nicolle Bangerter, who helped organize the campaign to split the district, said she was "ecstatic."

Frustrated by school closures, large class sizes and the drain of east-side dollars to fund west-side growth, residents of Sandy, Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale, Alta and some of the unincorporated parts of Salt Lake County have successfully gained their independence as a result of Tuesday's election. A new east-side school district will give parents more influence over their school board and the direction of their children's education, supporters said. Moreover, east-side residents' tax dollars would be directed toward east-side student needs.

But opponents from both the east and west side of Jordan had questioned how the split would affect children's education and pointed to the many uncertainties that remained. Because west-siders could not vote - the law only allows those starting a new district to cast a ballot - a legal attempt was made to stop the election on constitutional grounds. A legal challenge is expected to resurface after the election.

Under the current law, the new east-side district is expected to begin operation in 2009.

"I want the public to know that the Jordan Board of Education, administrative staff and school board remain committed to providing the best education possible for our students and that will not change," said Jordan board member Ellen Wallace late Tuesday when the poll numbers were still incomplete. "Jordan district has been extremely efficient and effective in educating students. We're hoping the new district and the remaining district can perform as well."

Jordan teachers' union president Robin Frodge said that work "needs to be done by all parties in this transitional time period to make sure that the splitting is done in a way that treats both sides equally."

In other news, West Jordan voters resoundingly defeated, 70 percent to 30 percent, an attempt to create a new school district within the city's boundaries. A feasibility study had found that a new district would require a significant tax increase or drastic budget cuts to operate.


* JULIA LYON can be contacted at or 801-257-8748.