School board district borders may be redrawn

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, June 18, 2003

The possibility of redrawing district voting lines has emergedfor the Lincoln County school board.

Superintendent Perry Miller informed the board Monday it waspossible that district lines would have to be redrawn based oninformation in the last census.

According to federal law, all government agencies divided intovoting districts are required to consider redistricting after everydecennial census in order to assure compliance with the “one-manone-vote” principal. The judicially recognized standard for maximumpopulation deviation between the smallest and largest populateddistricts is 10 percent.

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The board approved a motion to complete the first step of apossible redistricting by contracting Bridge and Slaughter, a city,county and regional planning consultant company, to determine if itwas necessary.

“The firm will look at the populations of our districts todetermine if we have to redistrict,” Miller said. “I certainly feelit’s our responsibility to determine if we need to redistrict ornot. I’m going to predict that we’ll have to.”

According to federal law, if the population deviation is morethan 10 percent the board will have to redistrict, but it thedeviation is less than 10 percent they are not required to.

“I think there has been enough of a population shift that we’llhave to redraw the lines,” Miller said.

The firm will charge the county between $300 and $500 to makethat determination, Miller said. The board then has the option toretain the firm for assistance during the redistricting or to hireanother firm, if necessary.

The firm is currently assisting the city of Brookhaven onredistricting and municipal annexation.

Interim Board Member Kay Coon questioned the length of theprocess amid concerns about the special election to fill the postshe holds.

“I expect if we told them to do it, they would have (thedetermination) ready in a few weeks,” Miller said.

“I wouldn’t think they would be able to get (the redistricting)done before the special election,” added Board President JohnnyHart.

Coon also voiced some concerns about completing theredistricting before the next general election.

“It may not affect me, if I decide to run, but it may affect therest of you,” she said.

Miller admitted the impact the redistricting would have on theelection is a concern. He also guessed that it would not becompleted until after the next election because it is a longprocess.

In other matters, the board also considered a $557,400 offerfrom Denbury Resources Inc. to purchase the board’s oil and mineralinterests in the West Mallalieu Field.

Coon abstained from the discussion on the offer and on votingbecause she said she had a conflict of interest. A relative wasworking for the company, she said.

Miller said money received from the West Mallalieu Field isplaced into the 16th Section Land fund. The district cannot spendthat money, but can spend the interest from it.

The board currently receives an estimated $4,000 a month fromits oil and mineral interest in the field, he said.

When the board asked for his recommendation, Miller said he hadconsulted with the board’s attorneys about the purchase offer andwas not prepared to recommend it.

“Our attorneys recommend we don’t sell it,” he said. “They feelDenbury wouldn’t make that offer, as a private company, unless theybelieved they would make more off the interest than the purchaseprice.”

The board agreed and voted to turn down the offer.