Next Tuesday’s hearing is spurred by the discovery of an incorrectly drawn school board district. The mistake was discovered last year and affects the district of current school board member Jane Holbrooks.
Holbrooks’ term expires in 2014.
According to Susan Williams, director of elections for Polk County, the incorrect boundary line stems from the recent downsize and redistricting of the county’s school board.
In 2011, the board voted to reduce the number of districts in Polk County from nine to seven as part of required process to adjust district lines every 10 years. Adjustments are based on census data.
District maps are drawn up by officials with the state’s apportionment office.
Each district is drawn based on census data and then assigned a number. Polk County has seven districts, each labeled with corresponding numbers.
In Polk County, school board members are voted on by district, which means voters can only cast ballots for those candidates living within their district.
Williams said with the current map, Holbrooks, who represents District 1 (previously District 3 under the old map), actually lives outside the boundary line of the district she represents.
In an effort to remedy the situation, preliminary maps with redrawn boundary lines – specifically including Holbrooks’ residence as part of District 1 -- will be presented to state lawmakers during this year’s General Assembly.
If legislators chose to accept the new map, it will then be passed to the Department of Justice to for approval. Williams estimates that if all parties OK the new map, formal approval could be expected around July of this year.
As to a specific issue that caused the initial map to be incorrect,
Williams states that it dealt primarily with several board members living in close proximity to one other. “What made it hard and an easy mistake to make is that four of our districts intersect with each other, and all four of the board members who are in those four districts live very close to one another. That’s where it gets complicated,” Williams said.
Gina Wright, executive director of the Georgia legislative and congressional reapportionment office, said redrawing district maps in order to correct errors happens often.
“Our office sees many requests to redraw maps for technical corrections. It’s not uncommon for a county to redistrict and redraw maps more than once, even in the same decade.”
The public hearing will take place at 5:30 p.m. at the Polk School District Central Office.