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WCSD redistricting process draws little public interest, but big changes expected
by Jill Lufrano jlufrano@dailysparkstribune.com
Oct 29, 2011 | 3279 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/John Byrne
The Washoe County School District is in the process of redrawing its voting districts. The area encompassing North Valleys High School is likely to experience the biggest change.
Tribune/John Byrne The Washoe County School District is in the process of redrawing its voting districts. The area encompassing North Valleys High School is likely to experience the biggest change.
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RENO — The Washoe County School District (WCSD) recently reached out to the public during five town hall meetings to gather citizen input for its redistricting process, wherein the district boundaries are redrawn to maintain equal representation based on 2010 U.S. Census population figures.

The trustees received few public comments during the meetings, but have whittled down the possible maps to four or five choices, said Randy Drake, the district’s chief general counsel.

The district also heard from special interest groups, including Lonnie Feemster, president of the local NAACP, the Sun Valley Citizen’s Advisory Board and the liberal nonprofit Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, Drake said. Information gained through these meetings proved valuable in the decision-making process, he added.

“We didn’t have a lot of turn out at the town halls,” Drake said, “but when we talk about redistricting, that’s where the interest is going to come (from the special interest groups),” he said.

The process of redistricting happens every 10 years. Trustee Dan Carne, who represents the south and southwest of the district, said he is the only trustee who remains onboard after the last redistricting was completed in 2000.

Although Carne only attended one town hall meeting, he said he sees many more minority students and parents living within the school district now compared to a decade ago.

“The reason we’ve gone out to the public is to make sure we understand their concerns,” Carne said.

Making certain minority representation is present on the board is what concerns Carne most.

“Is there a fairer way to draw these lines?” he asked. “Ten years ago, we didn’t even worry about it. What’s the fair way to draw the district? Should you create a district with more than 50 percent Hispanic representation so you could elect a Hispanic representative? Or should you kind of split them up so there are a couple of strong minority districts?”

Gaining a better understanding of minority issues might require having the ability to elect minority representatives, Carne said.

One major change likely to take place is the downsizing of one area of the school district because of growth in the past decade.

Drake sees a definite downsizing in the North Valleys voting district, he said.

“There has been a lot of growth in the North Valleys area,” he said.

Therefore, this voting area needs to be reduced in size to meet state statutes for equal population requirements.

Since beginning the process in July, the district has developed four to five possible scenarios.

These plans will be presented to the WCSB Board of Trustees on Nov. 22. The trustees will then select one map to present to the County Registrar of Voters.

For more information about the redistricting maps, visit www.washoe.k12.nv.us/trustees/redistricting.

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