MARTHA K. SEAGLE Â STAFF WRITER
The public gets its say on proposals for Lincoln County School Board redistricting 6:30 p.m. today at the districtâ€™s offices on North Generals Boulevard in Lincolnton.
During an Oct. 27 meeting, Board of Education members narrowed the field of proposals down to three, known as Plans 13, 14, and 15. These three options are posted on the Lincoln County Schools website for the public to review. Those who are unable to attend tonightâ€™s meeting may provide comments via the website.
In Lincoln County, voters from all parts of the county can participate in picking the winner for every seat on the Board of
Education, most of whom are elected from districts in which they are required to live. That practice will not change once the districts are redrawn.
However, once the districts are revised, two seats instead of one will be at-large seats, for which any qualified county resident can run. One or the other of those will be on the ballot each time school board seats are being chosen, every two years.
The other big change in the redistricting is that districts will be based on population, as determined by the census, instead of on the five geographic townships and the Lincolnton city limits, a system that has resulted in areas of the county was a relatively light population being more heavily represented than areas with a much larger population.
Two issues have been at the center of discussions thus far:
Whether precincts should be kept intact or split by district boundaries.
Whether a resulting district must be contiguous with all parts of it touching or could consist of two or more islands of territory that are not adjacent to one another.
Michael Crowell, an election law scholar with the University of North Carolina School of Government, has advised the board that splitting precincts is permissible and may actually be required to achieve districts of the required population.
Crowell has advised against non-contiguous districts, saying the public generally expects districts to be contiguous territory and that he knows of no local government districts in the state that are drawn non-contiguously.
A sign-up sheet will be available at tonightâ€™s session for those wishing to provide input on the three plans. A set amount of time will be established for each speaker.
The board will consider the publicâ€™s input over the next month before taking a projected final vote during the December meeting.
Other items on tonightâ€™s agenda include:
Election of chairperson and vice-chairperson for the upcoming year
Voting on using bond funds for athletic facilities other than those originally planned (see Oct. 19 edition of Lincoln Times-News)
Approval of school improvement plan revisions, safe school plans, and waivers