Failed attempt to “redistrict without representation”
Published 8:27 pm Wednesday, March 22, 2017
The Jessamine County Schools attempted to quickly and quietly redistrict the same neighborhoods they redistricted a mere four years ago, without directly notifying parents, and without adequate opportunity for public input. Had Monday’s vote passed, it would have been a stunning example of redistricting without representation. The public process undertaken prior to the vote was so utterly inadequate, it could aptly be described as little more than political theater.
The process not only lacked transparency, but multiple requests for a public forum were also denied. One board member flatly refused the request via email, and also denied a request for related public records, reasoning that it would not be a worthwhile use of district resources to put the records together. I subsequently obtained the records through a formal Open Records request. Minutes posted online were, until recently, password protected. The minutes of the board work session in which redistricting was discussed, did not include the content of the conversations. Where was the transparency that is such a cornerstone of governance in a free and open society?
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I am grateful for the two board members who spoke out about the inadequacies in the process, advocated for a public forum and voted no on the redistricting proposal. With two votes in the affirmative and one recusal, the proposal justly failed.
How will the next redistricting effort be handled by the administration and the board? Several other parents and I have formed a community committee on redistricting. As a result of the vote, the school board now has the opportunity to partner with the community as suggested in Chapter 10 of the School Board Manual, which advises the board to work cooperatively with community organizations and to hold public hearings on matters of such importance.
We hope for a positive and respectful working relationship with the board. Our goal is that the specific concerns, perspectives and ideas of the public be thoughtfully considered in the creation of a balanced and sustainable solution to growth, that will truly be in the best interests of the children of Jessamine County.