Raleigh, N.C. — For the second time since 2011, partisan politics will alter the voting districts for Wake County Board of Education seats.
The Senate gave final approval Wednesday to a Republican-penned measure that consolidates the current nine districts on the school board into seven. The two remaining seats will be transformed into regional districts, with one representing Raleigh and the other representing the outer ring of the county.
Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake, made a last-ditch plea to scuttle the bill, calling it "nothing more than a partisan effort to rejigger districts to favor Republicans."
Stein noted that the school board, which was controlled by Republicans in 2011, hired an outside consultant to redraw board districts. Yet, Democrats swept the five seats up for election that fall to seize control of the board.
The Senate voted 33-15 to agree with the slight changes approved Monday by the House.
"This bill was neither requested by citizens nor the Wake County school board," said Yevonne Brannon, chairwoman of the Great Schools in Wake Coalition. "Even the Wake County commissioners and Wake legislative delegation were split and could not agree on this rough-handed attack on our local rights."
Brannon said the new districts "add confusion and misalignment" that won't help board members understand the needs of the community.
The changes take effect in 2016, as the legislation shifts school board elections from municipal elections in odd-numbered years to the November general election of even-numbered years.
School board members elected in 2011 will now serve an extra year till 2016, while anyone elected this fall will serve only three years.