School board redistricting put on hold

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, July 23, 2003

The Lincoln County School District Monday tabled a motion tobegin redistricting until they could determine the cost of theproject and if they had a deadline to get it done.

“You’re going to have to redistrict, but it will be impossibleto redistrict before the election,” Superintendent Perry Millerinformed the board.

Miller was referring to the special election to replace formerBoard President Jerry Coon, who died April 15. His wife, Kay, isserving as interim board member until that election.

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The redistricting could have a major impact on the current boardas well. Miller said if the districts change significantly, theboard may have to call a special election for each of the districtsinvolved. If only minor changes are made in the size of thedistricts, a special election would not be necessary.

“This appears to a relatively easy redistricting,” said actingBoard President Johnny Hart.

Hart indicated that by looking at the figures, a specialelection should not be necessary.

Redistricting is required because of data revealed in the 2000census. That data showed that District 2 is overpopulated andDistrict 5 is underpopulated, resulting in a deviation of 23.9percent. District 2 is overpopulated by about 229 people, or 7.9percent, and District 5 is underpopulated by 461 people, or 15.9percent. Districts are required to redistrict when the deviationbetween the largest and smallest districts is more than 10percent.

Board members questioned the cost of a redistricting effort,noting that it was not planned and therefore not in the budget.

Miller said City, County and Regional Planning ConsultantsBridge and Slaughter Inc., who conducted the initial redistrictingstudy, estimated the maximum cost of a redistricting project at$15,000. Miller said indications are that redistricting here wouldnot cost that much, however.

The board was also concerned about how soon they are required tocomplete a redistricting project, but Miller could not provide themwith that information.

Coon suggested the board wait and investigate the deadline tosee if it was possible to postpone the project until after the newsuperintendent is elected in August.

The board agreed.

The board questioned whether their districts could mirror thoseof the county supervisors to make it easier for voters to recognizewhich district they are in.

“The problem I perceive with that is that the biggest andsmallest districts must be within 10 percent (deviation). Countysupervisor districts have the same requirement, but alsoincorporate the Brookhaven School District. They can’t be thesame,” Miller said.

Once completed, the redistricting will have only intangibleeffects on county residents, Miller said.

“It affects what school board will represent them, but not whatschool the students will attend,” he said.

The redistricting, therefore, will not cause students to changeschools.

The city’s proposed annexation of 16.5 miles of county land willnot affect any Lincoln County School Board redistricting efforts,Miller said, because all of that territory falls within theBrookhaven School District.