Board of Education Redistricting of Precincts
Based on Census 2020 data, it will be necessary for the Board of Education to evaluate their current districts which they represent to match the population and growth of the county. On Thursday, October 21, 2021, the Board of Education held a special called meeting to receive a presentation from Tharrington Smith Law Firm to understand the data and their options. The presentation is below and to view the maps on a larger scale click here. The maps are also printed in a larger format and on display at the Board of Education (3600 Trent Road New Bern, NC) and at The Board of Elections (Craven County Administrative Building)for any interested individuals to view.
Why Is Redistricting the Board of Education Precincts Necessary
The US Constitution requires a census every ten years. The 2020 census is a count of the entire US population as of April 1, 2020. Local governments — boards of county commissioners, school boards, and city councils — that use districts to elect some, or all their members are subject to the same one person/one-vote requirements as Congress and the General Assembly so they are required to evaluate the data results for each of their jurisdictions.
The equal population requirement applies only to true election districts, for example, district seats for which only the residents of the districts get to vote. Residency districts in which candidates have to live in a particular district but still run at large are not subject to the constitutional requirement of one-person/one-vote.
One-person/one-vote means that districts need to be nearly equal in population. The accepted rule of thumb for local governments is no district should be more than five percent above or below the ideal population of exact equality. If the 2020 census shows that the existing districts already are within this plus or minus five percent overall deviation range, there is no need to redistrict.
The governing body for the local government — the board of county commissioners, board of education, or city council — draws the new districts. The new districts are adopted by resolution. It is each governing body for the local government to determine what if any, adjustments need to be made based on the data. Although boards of election have no formal role to play in redistricting, they need to be kept informed of the redistricting process because district assignments will need to be updated on voter registration rolls.
Redistricting cannot begin until the Census Bureau releases its block-by-block data for the 2020 census. The data would ordinarily be made available in March 2021 following earlier releases of the full state population and other data. The Census Bureau announced recently, however, that the data will be delivered no earlier than July 30 of 2021 because of problems stemming from conducting the census during the pandemic. Once census data is available, redistricting needs to be completed before the next election for that unit of local government. For most cities, the next regular election is in the fall of 2021; for all boards of county commissioners and most school boards, the next election is in 2022. New election districts need to be completed before the filing of candidates begins.
It is important to understand that the responsibility for redistricting for the board of education seats lies with the board of education. The board is committed to ensuring that districts are created free from any outside influences and are solely based on fair representation models that align with census data. If consensus could not be reached if the board partnered with another elected body, then time would not allow for the board to begin the process on their own. Although moving forward with the next election
cycle, the BOE will be a partisan board, the currently seated board was elected on a non-partisan basis and is committed to serving our system with that governance model as long as possible. That demands we ensure our schools are represented by members elected within districts that were without question, drawn fairly to all.
Once the Board of Education has received feedback from their constituents and has reviewed the options presented by Tharrington Smith Law Firm, further discussion will take place during a public meeting. Once the board makes a decision, a resolution will be adopted to approve any revisions needed to ensure equitable based on the population changes and shifts in Craven County.
*Please note, this process has nothing to do with and will not impact school attendance zones for students.
As the Board of Education considers the options presented, they would like to extend an invitation to all stakeholders to provide their feedback. To access the form click here.