Thursday, March 17, 2011

School redistricting could get testy

Let's face it, the school board and county commission really don't like each other. No matter what they say.

I mean there's not necessarily an inherent hatred between the two bodies, but they just don't get along as much as they'd like to pretend.

So, when you see a school board member patting a commissioner on the back (or vice versa), it's not a sign of affection. The official is really just feeling for the soft spot.

To jab the knife into.

And I'm pretty sure the school board's early efforts to redraw its nine districts by the end of the year will be the latest example in the loveless relationship. (Which is cool because I'm tired of writing about Carter Elementary anyway.)

State law requires districts be redrawn at least every 10 years after the U.S. Census to make them as equal as possible, population-wise.

So, recently the good school folks who lord over the teachers who educate your children sought some clarity from the county law director's office.

They wanted to know whether the county commissioners (who lord over everyone else) really had the responsibility to redraw the lines.

Well, in a March 10 letter from Marty McCampbell to school officials, the attorney says: Yes, the legislative body calls the shots.

(Click here for the letter, which is mostly written in legal jargon if you really want to, or keep reading and I'll sum it up for you in Gorilla-ese.)

OK, still here?

McCampbell says “there is no constitutional provision that prohibits the Legislature from enacting laws which in some form or fashion are contrary to a local law set forth in a county's home rule charter.” (We operate under home rule by the way.)

She then cites a number of example where folks got their heads handed to them when they tried to challenge this.

Finally, she states (and this is great, especially the second sentence):

“All case law indicates that since the Charter and state law conflict, the state law supersedes the Charter. The final issue is whether the Commission wants to uphold the will of the people that voted for the Home Rule Charter and placed the power to redistrict in the hands of the Board.”


Now, six days later county commission Chairman Mike Hammond sent a memo to his buds on his board, saying:

“It is not my desire to have the Commission get involved or meddle in School Board districts; however, it is clear that any plan drafted by the School Board, by law, has to be approved by the Commission.”

(I love that “however” part.)

Hammond then says he's invited school board Chairwoman Indya Kincannon and school board member Cindy Buttry (who is the chair of the board's redistricting committee) to the March 28 commissioner luncheon to talk further.

And that, folks is where everyone will be patting everyone on the back!

You see, I'm thinking the school board members (at least some of them) want to have it both ways. They really believe they can redraw the district lines because the charter, they believe, actually trumps state law.

But, if that's truly the case, then the school board members should be subject to term-limits, which is what the charter requires. (Right? Maybe not.)

And, no, they don't want that.

But, whatever. It's just positioning.

Because, ultimately, what's happening is that the school board members want to base their districts upon school zone feeder patterns (elementary students go to such-and-such-middle school and then go to such-and-such high school, etc.) because they get their political support from the PTA's of those schools in those districts.

(Karen Carson was a former PTA president by the way. Not picking on her. Just saying. But obviously she'd want to redraw the lines along her political base.)

Politics. That's their real interest. It always is. Don't let them fool you into believing otherwise. Remember, the glass is always half-full.

So, what about the county commissioners? What's their rooting interest in all this? Why would they care how the school board redraws the lines?

They have their own districts, you ask. It won't hurt them, you say.

No. It won't.

But you don't think for a minute that some members won't use redistricting to settle old scores with the school board, do ya?


That's what I thought.

(For more information, the election commission has some redistricting fun facts, and meeting times and other stuff that no one probably cares about until it happens. Check it out by clicking right smack here.)


Anonymous said...

inherit: to come into possession of or receive especially as a right or divine portion

inherent: involved in the constitution or essential character of something : belonging by nature or habit : intrinsic

I'm just saying.

Mike Donila said...

LOL, thanks. I knew that. Made the change.