October 31, 2014

Timeline to redistrict school board voting boundaries runs short

Photo courtesy of USD 231

Photo courtesy of USD 231

Danedri Thompson
dthompson@gardnernews.com
School attendance boundaries aren’t the only lines USD 231 board of education members may need to consider.
Brian Newby, Johnson County Election Commissioner, will be sending a letter asking school boards whether they intend to redistrict school board boundaries prior to the 2013 board of education elections.
Currently, six of seven board members are elected from three different districts in USD 231. Board members serving in positions no. 1 and no. 4 must reside in the western half of the school district. Members serving in positions no. 2 and no. 5 must generally reside south of 175th Street and east of Gardner Road, while board members in positions no. 3 and no. 6 must reside south of 175th Street. A seventh board member can reside anywhere in the district, and all board members are elected at-large – meaning voters from all three districts vote in every board race.
Unlike in federal and state races, where the results of the U.S. Census require redistricting, school boards of education aren’t required to adjust boundary lines every 10 years. They are, however, required to maintain voting districts that are roughly equal – or within 5 percentage points.
State statute requires that redistricting of school board boundary lines can not be withdrawn within 90 days of an upcoming election. If USD 231 is to change its voting districts, the board of education is running out of time.
The general spring election is scheduled for April 2. A primary election, if needed, comes even sooner on Feb. 26.
Newby said the letter he will be sending to Johnson County schools simply to asks if they’re planning on redistricting.
“We send out a letter asking is everything the same,” Newby said. “And just asking to confirm how many board positions will you have up for election.”
This spring, three positions on the GE school board are up for election. They are position no. 4, currently Mike McNulty’s seat; position no. 5, currently Randy Fruits’ seat; and position no. 6, currently Ron Ragan’s seat.
To date, only one candidate, Rob Shippy has filed to seek a seat on the board.

Comments

  1. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    In response to my inquiry about redrawing the board member map, USD 231 Superintendent Dr. Bill Gilhaus informed me on Nov. 29, 2012, “The Board of Education and Administration are aware of KS 72-6769. Our school district demographer tracks Board Member District Boundary data. We are in compliance and a change in the board boundaries is not needed at this time.”

    In a Nov. 30 email from Johnson County Election Systems Administrator Tom Freeman, I was told, “Shawnee Mission, De Soto and Olathe school districts have checked in with our office already and it appears that no changes to Board Member District boundaries will be made before the Spring 2013 elections. Blue Valley, Spring Hill and Gardner-Edgerton school districts have not checked in with us yet this year. Wellsville and Eudora school districts each occupy small portions of land along the far western edge of Johnson County. Most of the land area for those districts falls outside of Johnson County so we usually do not hear from them.”

    The Kansas statute covering this process may be viewed here: http://kansasstatutes.lesterama.org/Chapter_72/Article_67/72-6769.html

  2. Sollicitus Civis says:

    The key concern of that statement would be this:

    Our school district demographer tracks Board Member District Boundary data. We are in compliance and a change in the board boundaries is not needed at this time.”

    The demographer is going to give up the results that Employee #1 (Dr. Gilhaus) at the USD wants..otherwise he will join the ranks of all the others that no longer are on the USD payroll.

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