MARTHA K. SEAGLE
The Lincoln County Board of Education is expected to adopt new election districts during tonightâ€™s meeting.
The board has narrowed the final choices down to three, known as Plan 13, 14 and 15.
Under recently adopted legislation sponsored by former N.C. Rep. Johnathan Rhyne, future boards would be comprised of seven members, five of whom must live in the districts they represent and two of whom would be at-large members.
Rhyne has indicated his goal was to ensure equitable representation for all areas of the county based on population and allow opportunity for an at-large candidate to run during each election.
Each district will be within 5 percent of the â€œideal population,â€ which is defined as one-fifth of the total population of the county.
Board members have been discussing redistricting options since spring, with input from County Planner Andrew Bryant and board attorney David Black.
During the public hearing conducted in November, three citizens spoke out against Plan 15, which contains noncontiguous (nontouching) districts and urged the board to adopt Plan 13, saying that it is the only plan that endorses the â€œspiritâ€ of the new legislation.
The current redistricting effort is the first of its kind since 1974. The combination of the Lincolnton City School Board and the Lincoln County School Board was the impetus for the 1974 changes.
In accordance with the new law, once the district boundaries are redrawn, they cannot be revised again until the next federal census is taken. That wonâ€™t be until 2020.
The board is also set to select new officers. Current board Chairperson Ed Hatley and Vice-Chairperson Candy Burginâ€™s terms will end later this month. The new chair and vice-chair will assume their roles in January.
Tonightâ€™s meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Board of Education building on North Generals Boulevard. The meeting is open to the public.