Friday, February 1 2013, 10:20 AM CST
BISD hosts public hearing to discuss voting map redistricting plan
BEAUMONT - By Megan Dillard - BISD school board elections are just months away.
The voting map redistricting plans are top of mind for trustees and people who live in the district.
The need for a new map comes from the 2010 census numbers.
The district operates on a 7-0 plan with seven single-member districts.
People who live in the district voted for the board to change to a 5-2 plan with five single-member seats and two at-large seats.
BISD attorney Melody Chappell submitted a request to the Justice Department to pre-clear a 5-2 plan.
The department ruled against a 5-2 change, claiming it would dilute minority voting strength.
Because people voted for the 5-2 change, the board ordered Chappell to meet with the Justice Department.
She will ask what would be required for the government to revisit a five-two change.
In the meantime, the district must pick a 7-0 plan by March 1, so the zones are mapped out for May elections.
The board will move forward with a 7-0 plan unless the Justice Department gives new direction during its meeting with the BISD attorney. Chappell is working with demographer Glenn Keopp.
He is filling in for Tom Sanders who had a stroke last week.
The pair presented two 7-0 plans tonight.
Several people from the crowd addressed the board and asked questions.
KFDM spoke with BISD parent Kendall Cockrell.
He doesn't care which type of map is implemented.
He's concerned with what's best for the students.
"I just want to make sure that I'm as informed as I can be and support the district as a whole, and also listen to members of my district in the school district are saying. We have an election coming up and we need to know where we're supposed to vote and who we're voting for."
Several people in favor of a 5-2 plan walked out of tonight's meeting. Melody Chappell is traveling to Washington DC next week to meet with the Department of Justice.
Unless the government gives her new direction at the meeting, the board will move forward with a new 7-0 plan.
The board must vote by March 1 for May elections.
There is another public hearing scheduled next week at Central High School.