Green Forest schools wrestling with rezoning

Friday, March 30, 2012
Eddie Keever / Carroll County News Richie Pierce, President of A.C.T. GeoSpatial explains a draft proposal for new school district zones as acting superintendent Andrea Martin looks on.

GREEN FOREST -- Rezoning in light of the 2010 census occupied Green Forest School Board members at Monday night's meeting.

Two of the zones in the district had slight population increases between 2000 and 2010. According to state code 6-13-631, a district with a minority population greater than 10 percent needs to keep the population differences of each zone of the district within 10 percent of each other.

After the 2010 census, Green Forest was found to have a minority population of just over 13 percent, and the largest disparity between zones is estimated at just over 10 percent but just under 11 percent.

A draft copy of a rezoning map was presented Monday night by Richie Pierce, President of A.C.T. GeoSpatial that would rezone the district, and would bring the zones to within four percent of each other.

The question members of the board were asking after the presentation was whether or not the district should go through the effort and cost of rezoning if they are just over the state's guidelines.

The members of the board were asking if the 10 percent number the state provided was a guideline or a mandate. Is there a penalty for doing nothing?

The board asked Pierce (who presented a similar plan to Berryville last month) to prepare a more in-depth presentation of the process for the next meeting.

If the board decides to move forward with the process, they will have to move quickly.

Once the board approves its rezoning plan, they are given a deadline of June 20 to submit the plan to the Carroll County Election Commission for approval.

The earlier the better though, since the filing period for school election candidates is July 3 through July 10. If the board waits until the June 20 deadline, election officials and the Secretary of State's office would have only eight business days to carry out the rezoning plan before candidates begin to file for the Sept. 18 school election.

Another point the members of the board are mulling over is that with a rezoning, a new board of directors would need to be elected. Every member of the board who would like to continue to serve would need to run again.

Lots would be drawn to determine whether they will be running for three, four or five-year terms so that the result will ultimately be staggered five-year terms.

In other business before the board, the 2012-13 salary schedules were presented. Changes to the schedule will mean small pay increases for all employees of the district.

The board then passed a change to the Library Media Policy that was presented to the board by Carrie Reece. The change had to do with what action the district could take in the event that material in the library is challenged.

Although nothing has been officially challenged at this time, Reece noted that organizations and individuals who have challenged a work in other communities routinely keep challenges going by repeating those challenges once defeated with the intention of keeping the matter open until a weary district surrenders.

The new policy will require that if a challenge is defeated, there will be a three-year waiting period before the item can be challenged again.

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