House OKs redraw of Wake school board seats

Posted June 10, 2013
Updated June 11, 2013

Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake, has proposed new Wake County school districts.

— Wake County is one Senate vote away from its second round of school board redistricting in just three years.

House lawmakers voted along party lines Monday night to approve Senate Bill 325, a Republican-penned proposal that would redraw the county's school board seats.

The new maps would consolidate the current nine districts into seven, turning the last two seats into regional districts, one representing Raleigh and the center of the county, and the other representing the outer ring of the county.

Republicans say the changes will allow voters to vote for two school board members instead of just one. Democrats say the redraw is a blatant political ploy to make the districts more favorable to Republican candidates. 

The bill would also move school board elections from municipal elections in odd-numbered years to the general election in November of even-numbered years. The change would take place in 2016. Members elected in 2011 would serve an extra year till 2016. Members elected this coming fall will serve only three years.

The aim, said Rep. Skip Stam, R-Wake, is to increase the turnout for school board races, though Rep. Duane Hall, D-Wake, responded that those elections are generally held in odd-numbered years to make them less partisan.

"Everybody in the state has an opinion on the Wake County school board," said Stam. "I won’t share mine with you unless you provoke me."

Stam said "a majority of" the Wake County delegation believes the changes will help solve some of the problems with the board.

Wake County Democrats disagreed vehemently.

Hall said the current maps, produced in 2011 by now-Secretary of Public Safety Kieran Shanahan, "were drawn by Republicans for Republicans." He said changing the districts for the second time in three years would cost the county as much as $250,000 and may be unconstitutional.

Hall added that the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and business community are opposed to redrawing the maps.

Rep. Grier Martin, D-Wake, called the bill a continuation of "petty partisan political conflicts" at the county level, urging his fellow lawmakers to stay out of it.

“The people of North Carolina expect us to be the big boys and girls," Martin said. “The public in Wake County is not crying out for this. The only folks crying for this are folks whose side lost in the Republican-drawn districts."

The Republican majority of the Wake County Board of Commissioners supports the change. The Democratic majority of the Board of Education is opposed to it. 

Rep. Yvonne Holley, D-Wake, tried to amend the bill to add a voter referendum on the question in 2014.

"Put this on the ballot Nov. 4, and let the people of Wake County decide whether or not they want to change the way the school board is voted on," she urged. "Let’s let the people of Wake County make that decision. It is a local issue."

Her amendment was voted down by House Republicans. 

“This is about voice," said Rep. Tom Murry, R-Wake. "[Voters] want the voice today. They don’t want to wait until November 2014.”

"We could put referenda on every local bill," added Stam. "I don’t think we want to start that."

The measure passed its second and third readings. The final vote was 70-42. 

It now goes to the Senate for concurrence in the changes made in the House version of the bill. If the Senate agrees, the bill becomes law – local bills don't go to the governor for approval.


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  • Radioactive Ted Jun 12, 2013

    "This is a riot. A person that apparently has ignored what the Dems did to him or her." whatelseisnew

    You might want to actually read what was said. I don't believe he said he was becoming a Democrat, just that he felt distanced from the current Republican Party.

  • SARCASTICLES Jun 12, 2013

    Translation: We need to change the election schedule and make electing school board members hyper-partisan so our dog-whistle will be more effective in driving our low-information thrall to the polls.

  • geosol Jun 11, 2013

    Is this something that the citizens of Wake County actually asked for, or is it just another REPUBLICAN power grab brought to us by the people who want us to believe that they are for "less government"? The REPUBLICANS in Raleigh right now are little more than an ugly joke doing the bidding of the rich and powerful at the expense of the rest of us.

  • sisu Jun 11, 2013


    Only when they vote for the wrong party. See Asheville/Charlotte. Municipalities that vote democrat will be appropriately punished.
    June 11, 2013 11:37 a.m.


  • Krimson Jun 11, 2013

    ConVoter: "Moving the school board election to even years will allow ALL voters to express their opinions about the school board.

    The Democrats in the General Assembly several years ago intentionally move the school board election to odd years because low voter turnout usually favors the vocal minority of democrats in Wake County."

    So what you're saying is that the majority of voters (which by your estimation are GOP Voters) are unable to vote on off-years b/c of what reason??? Apathy??? The inability to look at a calendar and make priorities???

    What exactly is the failure among the Right that made is so hard to vote in those off-years???

  • cjw6105 Jun 11, 2013

    NOTHING is going to allow ALL voters a say on the Wake School Board until ALL school board members have to answer to ALL Wake voters.

    We have a countywide school assignment system in Wake County, where someone from any given neighborhood can be forcibly assigned to a school district far from their current one, and consequently far from their neighborhoods as well.

    The Wake School System doesn't want its board members answering to all Wake voters, but they have no problem with the Wake County Commissioners being elected that way.

    The Wake School System doesn't want school board elections held at a general election because (1 it would increase voter turnout and 2(it gives them a false impression of importance. The extra election actually costs a lot more money, but again money has never been an issue in the Wake School System.

    The proof will come next week when Wake County hires its next school superintendent at a salary that will far surpass that of our governor. $300,000 perhaps.

  • free2bme Jun 11, 2013

    The House should be focusing on the needs of the entire state and stay out of the county's business. This Republican lead leadership is one of the biggest disappointments I have seen in a long time. I still refuse to move from NC just so I can be able to help vote them out come 2014 and 2016.

  • corey3rd2 Jun 11, 2013

    The GOP is ALEC. They aren't republicans anymore. They are paid representatives for the Koch Brothers and Art Pope. They are just doing what their masters demand even if it goes against real Republican values.

  • mmtlash Jun 11, 2013

    @ConservativeVoter the current Wake county school districts were completed by the republican run school board several years a result of their redistricting democrats regained control of the school board....can't blame that one on the democrats sir...

  • ConservativeVoter Jun 11, 2013

    Moving the school board election to even years will allow ALL voters to express their opinions about the school board.

    The Democrats in the General Assembly several years ago intentionally move the school board election to odd years because low voter turnout usually favors the vocal minority of democrats in Wake County.