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Legislation Would Draw Out School Board Members

The school board's chair and vice chair would be drawn out of their districts under legislation that redraws the board's districts.

Cherokee County’s legislative delegation has introduced bills that would change the way local residents elect county commissioners and members of the Board of Education.

HB 979 would require that county commissioners be elected solely from the district in which they live while the chairman’s post would continue to be elected at-large. HB 978would require school board members be elected from their respective posts in which they live and would allow for a chairperson to be elected county-wide.

Currently, the eastern side of the county votes for the commissioners to represent Posts 1 and 2 while the western portion of the county votes for the Post 3 and 4 seats. The chairman is elected by voters countywide. The Board of Education seats currently are voted on countywide, though the representatives are required to live within their districts. The board elects a chairman and vice chairman at its first meeting of the year.

The proposed bill could effectively remove the school board's chair and vice chair, as Mike Chapman and Janet Read would be drawn out of the posts they currently represent. Under the new maps, Chapman would live in Post 6's territory, while Read would live in Post 4's area.

Post 7 representative Kim Cochran would be moved to the newly-created Post 2 and would be the only board member to live within that district. Four board members would retain their seats -- Post 3 member Michael Geist, Post 5 member Rick Steiner, Post 4 member Rob Usher and Post 6 member Robert Wofford.

School board attorney Tom Roach told the Cherokee Tribune that he has requested to see the maps, but that request has not been fulfilled. However, he said there is no local precedent for board members being drawn out of their posts.

"I have not had a chance to speak to the board," he said. "I assume that will be at the next meeting. To a great extent, we are in the dark on this."

Read told the newspaper that the redistricting is in response to her vote to strike down Cherokee Charter Academy's petition to be approved as a district school.

"They’ve said all along that they would draw me out," Read said. "It’s not a newsflash to me."

Chapman said that while he also wasn't surprised by the map changes, he hopes legislators will change their minds before they vote.

"They do have a chance to reconsider their actions and change what they are doing," Chapman said. "I would strongly urge them to consider doing so."

If approved, the school board's new maps would go into effect Jan. 1.

County Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens told the Cherokee Tribune that it was convenient  for legislators to consider changes to how commissioners are elected.

"We were dragged into it due to the board of education issue," Ahrens told the newspaper. "I don’t think it would have come up unless it was an issue."

The Blue Ribbon Committee, which was tasked with redistricting both boards, made the recommendations earlier this month.

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BSprings February 17, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Mr. Chapman, what is keeping you from running countywide- just like you always have? Drawn out? I do not think so.
ah so February 18, 2012 at 01:03 PM
Hopefully one thing that would be drawn out is the apparent sense of entitlement to the post that the comments made by our sitting board of education reflect. Decisions have consequences, and when a board stops reflecting the consensus and will of the people that elect them and pay their salaries, then it is time for them to go. I can see no compelling arguments against having my school board member being drawn from my immediate district, where they will be more responsive to their neighbors' concerns. Am I the only one who is struck by how funny it is that a move to establish truly representative government is suddenly out of vogue for these sitting board members (and our county commissioners from some of their recent comments as well)? Grandma has been proven right again, for she used to say, "The hit dog always hollers."
Hwy140 February 18, 2012 at 09:57 PM
If our county legislative delegation believe they have the support of the county voters as to how the commission and BOE are elected, why not place it on the November ballot as a referendum item and let the citizens choose? It would certainly be more representative than the survey performed by the "Grassroots Conservative" folks.
Cheryl February 18, 2012 at 11:57 PM
I agree it should be on the ballot as a referendum...but I fear the legislators would find a way to manipulate those results also. The Grassroots Conservative folks are ruining this county....and Chip Rogers is financing them.
Cady Schulman February 19, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Currently, the chair isn't elected countywide. Each member runs for a post, and the board selects a chair and vice chair at the beginning of each calendar year. Under the new map, Chapman and Read would fall in districts represented by other current members.
Hwy140 February 19, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Got a phone call Saturday from "American's for Prosperity" letting me know of a "School Choice" presentation being sponsored by Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Bartow Co. Not familiar with AFP, I did some research as to their Mission and found the following: "... To that end, AFP supports: Cutting taxes and government spending in order to halt the encroachment of government in the economic lives of citizens by fighting proposed tax increases and pointing out evidence of waste, fraud, and abuse. Tax and Expenditure Limitations to promote fiscal responsibility. Removing unnecessary barriers to entrepreneurship and opportunity by sparking citizen involvement in the regulatory process early on in order to reduce red tape. Restoring fairness to our judicial system." All seemingly reasonable goals. What I did not find included however was the education of our children as a goal. In additions, it appears that one of Mr. Loudermilk's top campaign contributors during the last election cycles was "Friends for Chip Rogers" to the tune of $3000. Seems like the gospel of school choice is getting spread by others legislative "leaders"
Charron February 24, 2012 at 02:41 PM
I got a similar call.

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