The maps posted are smaller versions of those available on the school district's website (pinedaleschools.org). Here are the original proposal, one of the ones suggested by community member Dari Quirk and one devised at last week's meeting with demographer Rich Greenwood.
Last Thursday, the Sublette County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees, with the help of a handful of members of the public, mapped out new options for the trustee resident areas, which many have been referring to as a redistricting process. The new options, in addition to the two maps submitted by district parent Dari Quirk, mean the board will have five options to look at and choose from at its meeting next Thursday.
The meeting, however, was not nearly so simple as its outcome, and more than once board chairman Mark Pape tried to bring it back on track when discussion began to stray. But the prospect of meeting with GIS (geographic information systems) expert Rich Greenwood, who came down from Jackson for the meeting, got the crowd focused on the nitty gritty of map-making rather than any overarching theoretical discussion.
Within minutes of opening the meeting, board member Doris Woodbury ceded her time to Dari Quirk and her maps, both of which condensed the four trustee resident areas into two, each with two trustees. From there Greenwood was put to work, moving census blocks from one proposed resident area to another, all the while keeping track of the 10 percent deviation from the ideal population.
While the district is not legally compelled to go through this process, it has been noted, since it has committed to taking it on, the final product should comply with the rules set forth for the statewide redistricting process. Greenwood, who helped develop the final state redistricting map, is well acquainted with the frustrations the process entails, and by the end of Thursday’s meeting, so were all those in attendance.
Greenwood helped devise two alternative maps, both of which had four resident areas and moved the areas around to keep Pinedale as whole as possible. There are too many people within the town limits to have it be a single resident area, and in one map, keeping Pinedale “as whole as possible” actually split it into three districts rather than the two in the original proposal.
In the eyes of the demographer and mapmaker, this was not an elegant solution.
But one of the premises for the original map was keeping Bargerville together in a single area. District parent Ana Cupril said similar effort should be made for the other population area.
“If you’re trying to not split Barger, why isn’t that consideration being taken for Pinedale?” she asked.
The maximum population is 1,903, and the town has more than 2,000 people in it. The school district contains slightly fewer 7,000 people.
The second option Greenwood mapped moved Pinedale West farther south to encompass much of the population of Boulder, as well as Bargerville. This was in response to a citizen concern, as relayed by board member Robin Schamber, about clumping Boulder ranchers with the northwest portion of Pinedale in the Rural West area.
If, as former board member Shawn Buchanan adamantly proclaimed, the resident areas are to ensure geographic diversity in board membership, because “people from Cora and people from Boulder think differently,” then, Schamber argued, it didn’t make sense to assume people who live out past the Boulder Store and people who live in Shelter Park are going to think the same.
In constructing the first proposed map, County Clerk Mary Lankford, Greenwood and Superintendent Jay Harnack tried not only to have each area contain the proper population numbers, but they also worked to have the boundaries be easily identifiable, such as U.S. Highway 191 and other roads or rivers and streams. The two maps devised Thursday didn’t always meet that standard. The population is grouped into census blocks based on the 2010 census. For the purposes of mapping, those blocks can’t be split up, but they don’t always follow an orderly pattern, and many seemingly natural boundaries such as Meadow Lark Lane, split one or more census blocks. There are a limited number of these boundaries that can be used while maintaining the integrity of a census block.
When the board and community saw the complexities that go into creating a map of resident areas, frustration with the original map seemed to fade a bit.
Schamber, who had voted against adopting the original map, said the experience had been helpful.
“It’s a valuable experience to have everyone see how this is done first hand,” she said, “to see it’s not as easy as just moving a few lines.
Later, she told the Roundup if such a meeting had taken place at the beginning of the process, back in march, the past few weeks of acrimonious debate could have been avoided. She said she left the meeting feeling satisfied there was more than one option. Even if the original option is approved in the end, she said the public meeting with Greenwood was a productive exercise and a good use of time.
The board now has three maps with four resident areas. The two presented by Quirk have only two resident areas, combining either the rural areas and town areas or the east and west areas. As of Friday, whether this option can legally be considered by the board remains a question. The board is waiting a legal opinion from Wyoming School Board Association Attorney Tracy Copenhaver.
While the board did receive a letter from him prior to the Thursday meeting, Harnack said he thought the opinion was based on a set of false assumptions, and he asked Copenhaver to look at the issue again.
There is a statute that says any change to the makeup of the board – the combination of at-large and districted trustees – has to be made prior to Jan. 1 of an election year. Quirk has argued her proposals don’t alter the makeup of the board, as there are still four trustees in resident areas. It only changes the number of resident areas – a change that is not specifically mentioned in the statute.
The board hopes to have an opinion from Copenhaver before its regular meeting this coming Thursday. With potentially five maps to choose from, the board will take a final vote at that May 10 meeting. High-resolution versions of the maps can be seen at the district’s website.
For the complete article see the 05-11-2012 issue.
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