Clayton County Board of Education members approved a new map, Monday night, that redraws school board voting districts, with the goal of evening out the disparities in populations among the current districts.
According to the school system’s attorney, Glenn Brock, the process is mandated every 10 years, following the U. S. Census.
Brock said that, with the upcoming school board elections, the board is required by law to approve the voting-district map before qualifying for the elections begin. The new map, he said, will now be sent to the local legislative delegation for legislative approval, and then to the U.S. Department of Justice for its stamp of approval –– a process that could take up to 120 days.
He said the proposed map will even out the population of voters in the nine districts, and individual board members will have to serve within their new districts.
For example, Board Chairperson Pam Adamson, who represents District 1, saw a dramatic decrease in the population she serves, as it went from 37,680 residents, to 28,291. On the other hand, Board Member Michael King, of District 4, will see an increase in population, from 21,551, to 29,009.
“Those, who are running for election, must live in a particular district,” said Brock. “Maybe last time, [one] lived in District 4. This time [that person] might be in District 7.” With the population evened out, he said, the new map will give each voter an equal opportunity.
However, King had reservations about the new map, noting that he was concerned about the voting strength of Hispanics and Asians, particularly Hispanics, in his district. He said the Hispanic voting strength might discourage Hispanics from running for the school board.
Adamson said some of the board members will have different district’s they will have to serve, but, for the most part, the changes are a subtle shift. She said, in comparison to the old district map, the new map is a lot more reasonable.
“There were some districts [lines] that were long and skinny with a big crook,” said Adamson. “Now, they look more blocked [on the map.]
Board Member Charlton Bivins asked Brock if the new map will change the board members’ responsibilities and duties. Clayton County Public School Superintendent Edmond Heatley responded, and said he would have to research that information and get back to the school board.
The next rezoning matter the board will have to deal with is school attendance zones, Adamson said. She said board members are currently in the beginning of that process, which could take up to two years to complete. “Some schools are so over-crowded, and some are under-populated,” she said.
She said the need to rezone the schools became obvious after the Eddie White Academy was built. The lines on the old map are “crooked,” she said, and did not allow students, who lived within a mile of Eddie White, to attend that school.
“We really have to look at the whole county and the population shift,” she said. “This will be a long process, but it will be open to the public.”
The population breakdowns of the school board districts under the new map are:
• District 1 –– 28,291.
• District 2 –– 28,984.
• District 3 –– 28,286.
• District 4 –– 29,009.
• District 5 –– 29,011.
• District 6 –– 28,822.
• District 7 –– 28,353.
• District 8 –– 29,353.
• District 9 –– 29,315.