You can add Knightdale to the list of critics of the Wake County school board redistricting proposal.
As noted in today's article, Knightdale community leaders are lobbying the school board to change a proposal that would put the town into three different board districts. They're currently now in District 1 but the plan would send part of the town to Districts 2 and 4.
"The ability for us to have any influence on the board is certainly diluted," said Knightdale Mayor Russell Killen.
School board member Chris Malone, who represents Knightdale, said he's looking at whether changes can be made. But he said he doesn't think there's a way to reduce the population of his district without splitting up his Knightdale precincts.
"I'd like to keep all of my district," Malone said. "But I can't."
The redistricting plan calls for him to lose 11,778 people to put District 1 within 1 percent of the other districts. That's partially accomplished by moving precinct 17-06 to District 2 and District 17-08 to District 4.
Click here for a map done by Knightdale showing how the town would be impacted.
Malone said he had discussed with attorney Kieran Shanahan various ways of shrinking his district, including putting all of Knightdale into District 4. But in the end, he said they determined that splitting up the town into multiple districts was the best option.
Killen said the maps released by Shanahan were so vague that he didn't realize the town would be split into three precincts until he asked Knightdale's Planning Department this week to overlay the districts with the town's boundaries.
Since Tuesday, Killen, the Knightdale Chamber of Commerce and the Knightdale 100 have been lobbying the school board to change the maps. Click here for a Wednesday blog post from the Knightdale 100.
One of the redistricting guidelines is that "except when required by federal law, districts should respect the boundaries of municipalities." But the plan splits more municipalities into multiple board districts.
Malone said growth was making it harder to keep municipalities in one district. He said it would have been easier if there were only seven board districts and not nine.
Killen said he could accept if the town was put into two districts. But he said he couldn't see why it was necessary to be split into three.
"You have to split a town of 12,000 people into three districts?" Killen said. "Really?"
Killen and other town leaders are worried that they'll lose influence on the school board by making up small parts of three districts. They also say the needs of Knightdale schools are different than those in Garner and Southeast Raleigh.
“We will not have a voice," said Jennifer Bryan, executive director of the Knightdale Chamber of Commerce. "We’ll have three separate representatives and our interests will be diluted."
But Malone said the change should be viewed as a positive, saying "the (board's) commitment to Knightdale will not wane."
"I don't see this being an appreciable difference," Malone said. "Now you'll have three board members advocating for your interests."
The plan is for the board to discuss possible changes on Tuesday. A vote could take place that day.
Killen is urging the board to take more time to make any changes. The filing period for candidates starts July 25. The board's goal is to complete the maps by June 24.
Killen had backed Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker, one of the partners in his law firm, in his efforts to save the diversity policy. But Killen said he doesn't think that had anything to do with the proposed redistricting changes to Knightdale