Blog: Wake school board OKs redistricting maps, job cuts
Posted May 17, 2011 2:06 p.m. EDT
Updated May 17, 2011 9:31 p.m. EDT
5:15 p.m. – Board votes on redistricting, job cuts
After some discussion, board members voted 5-3 in favor of the redistricting maps drawn up by the Shanahan firm. Board members Carolyn Morrison, Deborah Prickett, Chris Malone, Debra Goldman and John Tedesco voted for the maps. Keith Sutton, Kevin Hill and Dr. Anne McLaurin voted against.
The board voted 6-2 to cut 174 positions from central services with Hill and McLaurin voting against the measure. Of the positions, 95 are currently filled; the rest are vacant positions.
4:15 p.m. - Heated Discussion Over Redistricting Maps
For the first time since a public hearing on the issue the school board discussed a newly proposed voter redistricting map, and related feedback:
Attorney Kieran Shanahan started by briefly walking the board through their process again. He defended the maps Tuesday saying they are accurate, and meet constitutional requirements.
Shanahan also specifically addressed criticism by some in the Town of Knightdale. He noted that Raleigh, Cary, and Fuquay-Varina are also all split into several districts in the proposed maps. Shanahan says splitting Knightdale into three districts made the numbers work, and was not intended to target the town, or to do anything negative.
Board member Keith Sutton asked the lawyers if it might be possible to come up with some alternative maps to address some of the concerns and offer other options.
Shanahan said while he thinks they've come up with the best possible map, following board criteria, it would be possible to create other versions if the board asks for it.
Board members Dr. Anne McLaurin and Kevin Hill echoed Sutton's concern suggesting it might be better to consider other options, especially under criticism about a lack of openness in creating the first map.
Chairman Ron Margiotta questioned the need to go back and make drastic changes at this point after all previous work and board input.
Board member Chris Malone added, “I don't know that there is anything else we can do without causing other problems. I am satisfied.”
3:45 p.m. - Budget Cuts Mean Staff Position Cuts:
Wake County Schools Chief Business Officer David Neter recommends the the board take action tonight to eliminate 174 school positions because of sharp budget cuts. He says the cuts would impact 19 central services based secretarial positions and 155 school clerical positions.
Neter says the central service cuts would save $907 thousand and the school clerical positions (one cut from each school) would save $4.5million.
Neter also cautioned that if the final state budget comes in with education cuts higher than the five percent they planned for, it could also involve cutting custodial and teacher's assistant jobs. At this point they are not impacted.
2:00 p.m. - Wake County school board convenes
According to their agenda, the Wake County school board has two big items for Tuesday. Board members are expected to vote on voter redistricting maps and staff cuts related to budget issues.
First, the board will be asked to take action to eliminate some central services based secretarial and school clerical positions related to budget cuts.
Next up on their agenda is voter redistricting. It will be the board's first meeting to discuss feedback from last week's public hearing on the issue.
Only a handful of people spoke out at that meeting. Many were tied to Great Schools in Wake or the Wake County League of Women voters. The two groups have criticized the board's lack of openness in drawing new maps, and offered their own version of maps.
Great Schools in Wake requested the data used by the Shanahan law group to create the school board's version of the proposed maps. After reviewing that data the group sent a letter to board members Monday asking they delay their vote saying, "The Shanahan redistricting plan moves more voters than are necessary to balance the population in each school districts. Many of the precinct splits proposed are not needed to rebalance the districts. Further, these splits will necessitate creating multiple ballots for each polling site, adding cost and confusion for voters. Most disturbing is the fact that what you distributed for public review is both confusing and contains errors."
Prior to last week's public hearing board member Anne McLaurin also expressed concern saying, "I am concerned about it, and I hope there will be discussion about it," she said. "It changes the core business of my district, which has primarily been downtown and magnet schools."
Since last week Knightdale's mayor and a community group called Knightdale 100 have also spoke out against the proposed map.
A news release sent by that group read in part, "We are outraged that the plan splits Knightdale into 3 districts despite the #5 guiding principle that the plan should respect municipal boundaries. Our small town of 12,000 has been divided into 3 districts! We don't know why - but we have a few theories."
On Tuesday the State NAACP joined the list of groups criticizing the proposed map and asking for a delay in the vote.
A news release from Rev. William Barber reads in part, "The Shanahan Maps were developed in the dark, far from the sunlight of the required open meetings. Two Board members, Chris Malone and John Tedesco, have admitted publicly their minds are made up, and they would not be swayed by public comments on the Shanahan Maps."