Special session called after order directing Scott school board to redraw its districts

jwarren@herald-leader.comJune 25, 2014 

The state Board of Education will meet Thursday to consider an order directing the Scott County School Board to redraw its board member districts to achieve greater population balance.

The special session was called after Scott County residents recently submitted a petition to the state complaining that county school board districts were widely out of balance.

According to figures gathered by Scott County Clerk Rebecca Johnson, two of the five members' districts each contain fewer than 7,000 people. Each of the other three districts has more than 11,000 residents, and one district has more than 12,700 people. The entire school district's total population is about 47,160.

Scott County resident Carol Landry, who submitted the original petition to state Education Commissioner Terry Holliday in May, said Wednesday that she was gratified the state board was taking up the matter.

Landry said she had feared the issue wouldn't be resolved before the Aug. 12 filing deadline for school board candidates in this fall's general election. She contended that Scott board members have been "dragging their feet" on redrawing the districts.

"It's not fair to students; it's not fair to taxpayers; it's not fair to board members; and it's not observing the law," Landry said. "When you have 12,000 people to represent, how can you get around to talk with all of them and see what they want? The person with only 4,000 people to represent has no problem. It's not that many people; they're probably his neighbors."

Kentucky law says changes in school board member district boundaries must "make divisions as equal in population and containing integral voting precincts insofar as is practical."

Here's a breakdown of Scott County board members and their districts as now drawn:

■ District 1: Haley Conway, 12,706 residents

■ District 2: Jo Anna Fryman, 11,742

■ District 3: Jennifer Holbert, 11,114

■ District 4: Rebecca Sams, 6,931

■ District 5: Roger Ward, 4,671

Landry said she submitted a petition to the state signed by more than 100 voters in Scott County District 4, asking that boundaries be redrawn. Under Kentucky law, state education officials must conduct an investigation of district boundaries if 100 people from one district sign a petition.

Holliday said in a letter to state school board chairman Roger Marcum that he conducted an investigation after receiving Landry's petition and concluded "that the school district divisions of the Scott County School District are unequally divided at this time."

According to the state education department, the Kentucky School Board may order a local board to change its district lines "to equalize population" if the education commissioner recommends it.

Scott board member Conway initially brought up the boundary issue during a board meeting last year. Members voted in the spring to redraw the district lines, but no plan was approved.

Jim Warren (859) 231-3255. Twitter: @heraldleader.

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