Polygamous school buildings purchased

Associated Press/July 2, 2013

Salt Lake City - A school district is buying two school buildings in a polygamous town on the Utah-Arizona border to accommodate a growing number of students from non-polygamy families.

The Colorado City School District in Arizona will buy the buildings from a Utah-run trust that holds about $100 million in homes and property that belong to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, reports The Salt Lake Tribune (http://bit.ly/14oMSq5).

The school district will pay $430,000 for two school buildings and another structure it is already leasing.

Colorado City School District Superintendent Carol Timpson told The Salt Lake Tribune that about 225 students in first through third grades will go to class in the buildings. The district's total number of children jumped to 560 last school year, up from 475 the previous year.

Timpson attributes the increase in the number of students to more people returning to the area as the economy improves, and hundreds leaving the FLDS church which prohibited public education under jailed leader Warren Jeffs.

Timpson says none of the students is an FLDS member.

About half of the students come from Centennial, Ariz., and one-third from Colorado City, Ariz., Timpson said. The rest live in Cane Beds, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah.

Jeffs is serving a life sentence in Texas for sexually assaulting two underage girls he considered his brides, but continues to try to lead the sect of about 10,000 people from jail. The sect is a radical offshoot of mainstream Mormonism whose members believe polygamy brings exaltation in heaven.

The school buildings are part of a grouping of homes and property in Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, that have been kept in a state-run trust for years.

Utah seized control of the community trust in 2005 amid allegations of mismanagement by church officials. The trust has been hung up by legal battles for years.

A Utah judge recently gave initial approval for the creation of a board of trustees that will decide who gets the homes, land and farms in the trust.

Salt Lake City accountant Bruce Wisan told The Salt Lake Tribune that the sale of the school buildings was a positive for the polygamous community because it gives them an independent and secular school in the middle of town. Wisan oversees the trust.

"It's just a win-win," Wisan told newspaper.

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