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Timing is wrong for redistricting

By Staff | Dec 16, 2016

The Jefferson County Board of Education is focused on redistricting several hundred students to best meet space needs of the county. We are the first to agree that redistricting is a necessary evil.

However, the board’s rush to push through a redistricting plan during the holiday season does little to show their concern for the input of parents, teachers, students and other taxpayers.

The plan, which was unveiled at their board meeting just before Thanksgiving, has already caused a rush of comments on social media and at their most recent board meeting. The commentary we have heard is not one of a positive nature.

The board has indicated that the plan that was presented will be open for two public “forums” which are labeled as board meetings, where folks can have a time to voice their concerns. Those two meetings, however, are held within five days of each other and both fall within 10 days of the Christmas holiday.

Surely the Board of Education and our superintendent realize that this is likely the busiest time of the year for most people. To have time to set aside for a night meeting or two to hear all comments, is impossible for many who would otherwise wish to have a voice in this allegedly “transparent” process.

The superintendent has indicated, through press releases from the board’s public relations firm that the plan is to be voted on when the board meets just after the new year. Apparently this quick turnaround is necessary to ensure that busing and scheduling can be fully planned before next August.

We would argue that the board and the superintendent are trying to push this plan through too quickly without allowing adequate time for the public to give their input or for other ideas to be vetted.

Surely waiting a few more weeks and allowing a longer time period for public input and comment than the 10 days before Christmas would show the good faith of this elected group–that they truly wish to serve those who put them in office. And while, as Board member Kathy Skinner said this week, they don’t have to have public input at all–they can simply vote–that good faith will go a long way at re-election time.