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School Board Begins Redistricting of Board Seats

By Anne Waits
web posted April 24, 2014

COUNTY The Edgefield County School Board's meeting Tuesday night focused primarily on redistricting. Following the invocation and Pledge of Allegiance, Sen. Shane Massey, Rep. Bill Clyburn and Rep Bill Hixon were introduced. Bobby Bowers, from the State Office of Research and Statistics was also introduced. Clyburn, who is chairman of the delegation, and Bowers led the discussion on redistricting.

Edgefield County School Superintendent Greg Anderson reminded everyone that while County Council is required by law, redistricting is an option for School Boards. In the past, it has been done every 10 years and the 10 years will be up in May.
"We asked the delegation to grant to us a proposal and Rep. Clyburn and Mr. Bowers are here tonight to present that proposal.

Clyburn said, "Every 10 years we go through this process. As previously mentioned, we don't have to, but we have that option. I've seen the map and it looks good to me. Of course, I've worked with Mr. Bowers for many years and I had no reason to think it wouldn't.  After looking back, there are a few things. But after getting public opinion, we will have an opportunity to present to you what we came back with."

Bowers then displayed the maps, the Edgefield County School District Benchmark Plan and the Edgefield County School District Proposed Plan. He showed how they arrived at the Proposed Plan according to numbers and statistics. He also reminded the Board that "anything we do doesn't have to go back to the Justice Department. The delegation has the authority to put it into action."

"So be careful," he said. "As Mr. Clyburn said, there is no method the School District has to take by State Law. Sections 4 and 5 have been abolished. What we do does not go back to the Justice Department. Whatever the delegation passes goes to the General Assembly."

Bowers said the delegation lets the School Board look at it as a courtesy. He held up the maps and talked about the criteria for developing plans: 1. Adherence to the court ordered Constitutional requirement of one person, one vote (County Council must adhere o a state law of population variance under 10 percent). 2. Adherence to the 1965 Voting Rights Act as amended and by controlling court decisions. 3. Ensuring that parts of the districts are contiguous. 4. Respecting Communities of Interest. 5. Attempting to maintain constituent consistency. 6. Avoiding splitting voting precincts. 6. Soliciting public input.

He said they go by the following steps in construction a Redistricting Plan: 1. Construct Benchmark Plan. 2. Locate incumbents. 3. Copy Benchmark Plan and adjust blocks to adhere to 1965 Voting Rights Act, the Constitutional requirement of one person, one vote and traditional redistricting principles. 4. Hold public meetings. 5. Pass plan at local level (three readings County Council; two readings City Council. 6. Submit to Justice Department. 7. Receive pre-clearance letter and implement plan.
"We've come up with a proposed plan better than we've got," he said.

School Board member James Bibbs had some concerns regarding areas of largest growth on the proposed plan.

Board member Brad Covar made the comment that "no one will  ever be totally happy with everything."

Covar asked a question about how the plan will affect Board members' terms
Bowers said that if the map is approved, out of the seven districts, 1, 2, 5 and 6 will be up for re-election in 2014. Other School Board members will be up in 2016.
"Everyone already elected will be allowed to serve out their term," he said. "Once signed, it is the law. There will be plenty of time before the next election in 2014."

In other business, requests for several trips and projects were approved by the Board, including: Marietta Epps Williams of Strom Thurmond Career Technology Center asking permission to take students to Carowinds on May 17, 2014; Jacqueline G. Kennion of Strom Thurmond Career Center asking permission to take students to Trident Technical College in North Charleston April 26-27, 2014; Mindy Clark of Merriwether Middle School asking permission to take students to CNN and World of Coke in Atlanta on May 23, 2014; Mererick Owens of JET Middle School asking permission to take students to Myrtle Beach May 21-22, 2014; and Jill Cockrell of JET Middle School asking permission to take students to Carowinds on May 27, 2014.
in addition, the March 11, 2014 Board Meeting minutes; March 19, 2014 Called Meeting minutes; and Feb. 19, 2014 Discipline Hearing minutes were approved.

There was no Instructional Services or Facilities/Operations/Transportation business to discuss.

Under Fiscal Services, Chief Financial Officer David Fallaw recommended $512 per year out-of-district tuition for 2014-2015 for any student outside of the county. The Board accepted his recommendation and approved the amount.

In further business, Anderson  announced the Summer Work Schedule and it was approved by the Board. He further announced the "Don't Drive and Text at the Same Time Pledge" and the Board put it into a motion and voted to hand out flyers and encourage students to take the pledge to never text and drive.

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