School Board discusses member division boundaries

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Lincoln County School Board Members are taking a closer look at division boundaries.
During the board’s Feb. 8 working meeting, Board Member Win Smith said it’s a topic that has come up before and is currently back up for discussion.
“We have discussed this a little bit in the past about needing to come in and examine our boundary lines for each district that we cover,” Smith said. “The numbers that you are given on there that kind of compare numbers for each district, those are voter numbers, not population numbers…we can do the divisions off of voting numbers or population numbers. Most reccomend that you do it off of population numbers.”
Documentation provided showed the total numbers of voters for each district.
District 1, which includes precincts A104, D101, D103 and D105 and is Win Smith’s district, has a total of 3,834 voters. District 2, which is Ricky Lane’s district and includes precincts A101, B104 and C104, has a total of 4,421 voters. District 3, which includes A102, A103, D102 and D106 and is Bruce Smith’s district, has a total of 4,149 voters. District 4, Gloria Sneed’s territory, includes precincts C101, C102 and C103 and has a total of 2,745 voters. Etta Meek’s territory, District 5, includes B101, B102 and B103 precincts and has a total of 2,669 voters.
Smith said during the Feb. 8 meeting that the Bluegrass Area Development District could help remap boundary lines based on population.
“We don’t have to really go by what they give us. We could reject all of it and come up with our own. But I’m not really comfortable doing all of that work for ourselves. I would rather call in an outside agency to do it,” Smith said.
Superintendent Mike Rowe said if the district decides to move forward with redoing boundary lines, it has to be done by Aug. 1.
“I’ve been playing around with some of the census data online…it’s not as simple as going and saying how many people we have living in this precinct. They rely on data sets and these data sets take a very sophisticated program to break down the data inside the data sets,” he said. “That’s why you see different government agencies using people like Bluegrass AD, who basically do this for a living, and can break that down pretty quickly. It’s pretty complicated.”
Board members agreed to look at population numbers, rather than voting totals.
The discussion continued during the Feb. 10 school board meeting.
Rowe said he reached out to Bluegrass Area Development and asked for an estimate of the cost to do the analysis, which they said would be about $5,000.
Board Member Bruce Smith said he did some research and found that several agencies were waiting until 2023 to address boundary lines.
“A lot of counties and districts and things are waiting until 2023 to do this just in case people have already filed, that there wouldn’t be any issue with that,” Smith said.
“The third source today was on the news…where, you know, there’s some issues with how there had been changes and possible litigation there…”
Smith suggested holding off until 2023.
Win Smith said he pursued the issue because Bruce Smith had asked that it be discussed.
“I did bring this up when I first got on the board because it’s been an issue now for 15 years and it’s never been addressed,” Bruce Smith said.
Board member Gloria Sneed said she would like to move forward. Win Smith agreed.
Jonathan Baker, Board Attorney, said the board did not have to take action on the results of any studies until 2023 and it would give notice to prospective candidates of what their districts could be in the future.
“If I run, here’s what the new lines could very well be,” Baker said.
The board voted 4 to 1 to contract Bluegrass Area Development to facilitate the process of redrawing board member division boundaries. Bruce Smith voted against the motion.
Bluegrass AD discusses analysis
Shane New, Director of Community Planning at Bluegrass AD, was invited to the March 3 working board meeting to provide more information to board members about boundary lines.
“Normally we have been involved with redistricting in the county – what they call reapportionment. The reapportionment is where they take the magistrates’ district and redo those. Those are based on populations and they have a lot of specific rules that go with those. Well, essentially doing the same thing for your board and applying whatever rules you all have to apply, we can use the same software through that,” New said.
The software allows New to do a “selection set” and calculate new boundaries based on population, he said.
“I can put together some scenarios that have some things in them and bring those back to the board and say ‘here’s the data, here’s what it looks like again, here’s my proposal, what do you want to change from there?’ Or we can have a session that is just whoever you all appoint to do it or the whole group,” he said. “I’m willing to work with you however you want.”
Bruce Smith asked about districts being “continuous.”
“It’s going to take some work,” New said. “What you all do has a huge impact on what the County Clerk has to deal with. Whatever changes you make in that is obviously going to impact how they set up the precincts and stuff like that…”
New agreed that using population numbers was the best way to represent people.
“They represent those people even if they don’t vote,” he said.