PINEDALE – Sublette County School District (SCSD) No. 1 held a meeting last Thursday to talk about rearranging trustee districts with a focus group made up of concerned residents and parents, along with two board members.
Yesterday, after the Roundup’s deadline, demographer Rich Greenwood joined the focus group for another meeting to discuss the mapping process and to explore other options for a redistricting map.
That key word, “options,” was the central theme of last week’s meeting, as a certain section of the group wondered aloud whether one map, created without public input, should be the only option for the Board of Trustees during a meeting that was often contentious and heated.
“I guess to be very simple about why I’m concerned about this map and why I’m here, is one, that there was only one option presented. And two, that there wasn’t any community input into creating that option, at all,” focus group member Ana Cuprill said. “That’s very simple. That’s the only problem that I have with the map. That’s it. I want more options, and I want more input. We are here creating more input.”
The meeting started with SCSD No. 1 Superintendent Jay Harnack giving a brief introduction to legislation regarding redrawn boundaries, as well as a quick history of the district changing the school voter representative areas.
While the district is not out of compliance with the law, it could be challenged for not having a “one-man, one-vote equal representation,” Board member Doris Woodbury added.
This is why Harnack originally undertook creating a new map, with the help of Sublette County Clerk Mary Lankford and Greenwood.
This map was presented to the board with only six members present and failed to earn approval due to a 3-3 tie two weeks ago.
The way this was handled did not sit well with some of the parents and residents at the meeting. Whether intentional or not, focus group member Jim Quirk said “there was a semblance of impropriety that was concerning.”
“I think we would all be remissed to think this meeting is not part of the frustrations by that lack or that sense of a lack of adequate representation in the process,” he said. “Part of what was said was that it’s a collaborative process and people’s voices should matter, but really what we’re being offered is the non-option option.”
The debate started with confusion as to why the group was there. Focus group member Doug Vickery originally felt there were two options: keeping the old map or accepting the new one. He felt members were free to discuss which option was a better fit, but others at the meeting did not agree with this sentiment.
“I’m just the kind of person who likes options, so it’s very hard to say this is the only thing,” focus group member Dari Quirk said before presenting several separate, but vague, options. “The purpose of doing this, I think, and why this is so important, is because it’s all about how people are elected. It’s the democratic process. It’s how you’re choosing who’s going to make these choices for our kids and their education.”
Dari Quirk later sent out two new mapping options via email. The maps redraw the “trustee residency areas into two trustee residency areas with two trustees each,” she wrote.
Despite the efforts of Quirk, Greenwood and other concerned individuals, the timeline is short. Lankford clarified in an email that May 10 is the set deadline for an approved decision, as “voter registration for the district voters will also need to be updated, which requires hours of computer work.”
Any action items for the board’s May 10 agenda will be due by Tuesday, May 8, thanks to a concession of the rules, which normally require documentation be submitted by the Friday prior to a meeting, according to a Harnack email.
Either way, if the focus group reached a conclusion last night and can have all materials submitted by Tuesday, then it’s possible multiple options could go before the SCSD. No. 1 Board of Trustees on Thursday and be approved for November’s election. For the complete article see the 05-04-2012 issue.
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