Friday, July 27
, 2001

School board eyes redistricing options

How to divide Fulton County's population into Board of Education districts and how many districts to create will be the topic of three public hearings in August.

According to 2000 U.S. Census figures, the county's population has risen nearly 26 percent since 1990.

In addition, a greater proportion of the population has shifted to north Fulton County. This requires the redrawing of school board district lines to reflect that growth and population shift. That process, called reapportionment or redistricting, began in June when the Board of Education met to review alternatives provided by the Reapportionment Office of the state General Assembly.

The following information summarizes the school district reapportionment process and the roles the Fulton Board of Education, the public and the state Legislature will play in it.

What is reapportionment?

Reapportionment is the process through which voting districts are redrawn to reflect changes in county and state populations. The process usually follows the U.S. Census taken every decade. During the next year, reapportionment will be taking place throughout Georgia.

How will this process be used to create new school board districts?

Reapportionment of the school board districts is enacted as local legislation, with the Fulton County legislative delegation in charge of the process. In June, the Fulton County Board of Education approved guidelines and timelines for redrawing district lines.

Using the approved timeline, the board could present a reapportionment plan to the legislative delegation in August. This would in turn allow the delegation to approve a plan in one of the special summer sessions of the General Assembly.

Plans call for the board to collect community comment in public hearings and through the school system's Web site,

Next the board must conduct a special meeting to approve a preferred plan for redrawing districts and submit the plan to state representatives and senators from Fulton County for introduction and enactment in one of the special summer General Assembly sessions.

What new school board district alternatives is the Board of Education considering?

During two June meetings, the Board of Education reviewed several alternatives provided by the Reapportionment Office of the General Assembly. Of these, the board selected three alternatives to present to the community:

A seven-member board (six districts, one at-large member). This alternative includes four districts in north county and two in south county, with one member elected by the entire voting population.

A seven-member board (seven districts). This alternative includes four districts in north county, two in south county, and one split district containing portions of Sandy Springs and East Point.

A nine-member board (nine districts). This alternative would increase the number of board members from seven to nine and include six districts in north county and three districts in south county.

Public hearings are scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 16, 10 a.m. at Webb Bridge Middle School, 4455 Webb Bridge Rd., Alpharetta; Monday, Aug. 20, 7 p.m. at Dunwoody Springs Elementary School, 8100 Roberts Dr., Sandy Springs, and Tuesday, Aug. 21, 7 p.m., Fulton County School System Administrative Center, 786 Cleveland Ave., SW, Atlanta.

After community members have had an opportunity to view the maps and provide input, the board plans to call a special Aug. 23 meeting to select a preferred alternative to submit to the Fulton County legislative delegation.

Why is the Board opting for action on a reapportionment bill in a special summer General Assembly session, rather than waiting until January, when the legislative session normally begins?

Following legislative approval of the new district lines, the U.S. Department of Justice has up to 60 days to review and approve them, with a possible extension of 60 additional days for further review. The terms of three of the existing board members expire in December 2002. Elections to fill those seats takes place in July 2002 and interested candidates must qualify in April.

Seeking approval of a reapportionment plan in the August or September special sessions ensures final approval of new district lines before the April qualifying deadline.


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