While there are many proposed pieces of legislation that, if passed, will jeopardize the quality of public education, there are two bills that are specific in their impact on Wake County.
Senate Bill 325 – Wake County School Board Districts
On May 29, 2013, the House Elections Committee approved SB 325, with the additional language that says Wake school board candidates would need only a plurality to win. The bill now heads to the full House for a vote.
SB 325 was sponsored by Senators Neal Hunt and Chad Barefoot and passed in the Senate by a vote of 33-17. See how Senators voted.
As passed in the Senate, the bill calls for:
Seven board members elected by district, two members elected to “regional” seats, each representing half of Wake County. All will ultimately serve four-year terms, beginning in July (formerly December).
All nine seats will be up for election in 2016.
- Candidates who win seats up for election this year (Districts 1, 2, 7, 9) will serve only a two and one-half-year term.
- The terms of board members elected in 2011 (Districts 3, 4, 5, 6, 8) will be extended by seven months.
- “Regional” seats will be up for election in 2016, and then up again in 2018 for a full four-year term.
Great Schools in Wake DOES NOT support SB 325. In the words of Senator Josh Stein, “These maps were drawn without public input, against the will of the school board, and for transparently partisan reasons.” Some facts:
- This bill was neither requested by citizens nor the Wake County School Board. What happened to reducing “big government?” Passing this bill opens up the floodgates for similar legislation across the state.
- The bill does not increase representation for voters, with its two proposed at-large districts. In fact, the chance that children won’t attend a school in the district where their family lives increases.
- Redrawing lines that racially polarize the community does harm to our county. One of the regional districts proposed creates a minority district.
- Districts were just redrawn after the 2010 Census. Redrawing them so soon after is costly. Taxpayers will have to foot the bill for new Wake County voter cards (upwards of $200,000) and for costly litigation that is likely to occur.
Why not support a statewide proposal such as House Bill 606, Nonpartisan Redistricting Process, which offers a logical, cost effective approach to redistricting?
SB 236: Counties Responsible for School Construction
This bill was first introduced at the request of Wake County Commissioners Bryan, Coble, Gurley and Matthews. Primary sponsors of SB 236 are Neal Hunt (Wake), Tom Apodaca, and Peter S. Brunstetter. SB 236 was passed in the Senate by a vote of 33-15, with two excused absences. See how Senators voted.
As of May 20, 2013, SB 236 passed a first reading in the House and was referred to the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations.
SB236 allows county commissions to seize ownership and control of school property from local school boards–for no less than 10 years. Yet equipment, maintenance, and repair responsibilities for the same properties could remain with the local school district. Only local boards of education have the educational programming knowledge and requisite experience dealing with the kinds of factors that affect school placement and design decisions. Great Schools in Wake DOES NOT support SB 236.
Public Schools First NC – Education Bills (2013 Long Session)
State Board of Education/Department of Public Instruction Legislative Updates (2013 Long Session)