Kansas City residents have two more opportunities to comment on how lines should be drawn to create the sub-districts that determine who represents students and families on the city school board.
The city's Board of Elections whittled down the possible sub-district maps from six to three, and the public can comment on them at two more meetings:
▪ 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 4, at Manual Career and Technical Center, 1215 E. Truman Road.
▪ 6:30 p.m. next Monday, June 11, at the Kansas City Public School Board offices, 2901 Troost Ave.
The Board of Election Commissioners will then choose the final map, weighing in public comment. Currently the board has just one commissioner, M. Blake Heath. If the three vacant seats are not filled by August, he will make the decision alone.
"I am relying very heavily on recommendations from members of the community to make this decision," Heath said.
A 2013 Missouri statute mandates that the school board be reduced from nine members to seven.
The current school board includes six sub-district members and three at-large. Under the new system, voters will elect five members to represent sub-districts and elect two at-large. All seven seats will be up for the April 2019 municipal elections.
"Since these maps are being drawn before the next census, it is important that they are drawn in such a way that leads to the least amount of disruption and provide as much continuity and stability for the school district as possible," said Gwen Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City.
A consulting firm hired by the Board of Elections to develop the maps has used data from the 2010 census, taking into consideration population and number of schools in each sub-district. Consultants said they tried to develop sub-districts that cross Troost Avenue, the city's historic racial divide.
"Race cannot be a predominant factor in how the lines are drawn, but it can be a factor," said Melissa Patterson-Hazley, one of the consultants.
Grant said the proposed sub-districts seem to fairly reflect the city's racial makeup.
"It appears the three maps that have been advanced by the Election Board accomplish these goals," Grant said. "Redistricting is about ensuring equitable representation in our governing institutions."
The redistricting does not affect school attendance boundaries.