Can the Redistricting Committee come to order? We’re going to be doing two bills today. One of them, Senate Bill 325, is the first one – Wake County School Board District. Second one will be Senate Bill 317, Guilford School Election System. Before we start, we’re going to recognize Sergeant-Of-Arms who help us keep this meeting running in an orderly manner, and that includes Charles Marsalis, Ernie Sherrow, Ken Kirby and Kenton Lewis. Thank you folks and we appreciate that help. We have also today two pages: Andrew Pelletier, Senator Jenkins; Karen… I think it’s “Marts”. Am I correctly…? Yes? Thank you, and that’s “Marts” I think – Senator Brown. Thanks very much. I hope your stay is enjoyable here. Now we’re going to go ahead today and present the bills. We’re going to do Senate Bill 325. Senator Hunt will be presenting that bill. Special council, Jerry Cohen was available to also help in the explanation of these bills, and so we will lean on him, but we have one hour to finish these two bills. We will be taking a vote on them today. There is opportunity for public comment. There’s a signup sheet in the back. You’ll be asked to sign up and, like I say, two minutes for your discussion, and then we will go at that point. So Senator Hunt, would you come forward and explain Senate Bill 325, Wake County School Board Districts? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. There is a PCS. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Hunt’s a member of the committee and he makes a motion that the PCS for Senate Bill 325 be accepted for discussion. All in favor please say aye. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Aye. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Opposed, nay. Ayes have it. We have Senate Bill 325 PCS before us for discussion. You should have at your desk maps and information. Senator Hunt. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chairman, we also have an amendment. I think the members have it. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Do you want to put it forward? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Move for adoption. [SPEAKER CHANGES] You want to right now. Members of the committee, you have an amendment. Does everyone have one before you? [SPEAKER CHANGES] No. [SPEAKER CHANGES] The amendment is a technical amendment and it’s okay; Jerry Cohen just fixed a few little things. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Cohen, would you explain what the amendment is? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes. On page 1, line 10 of the substitutes, there were some stray words “and shall be filled in accordance with this act” which were proposed to be deleted. There isn’t any other provision for filling them, so that was my mistake. It just deleted those stray words. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator McKissick, is that pretty clear? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Could he repeat that one more time? I think there’s some ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes. There is a sentence in the substitute on page 1, line 9 through 11. It says “The terms of members in the Wake County board of Education elected in 2011 are extended to expire on the first Monday in July of 2016.” That sentence was supposed to stop there; instead there are some stray words “and shall be filled in accordance with this act”, which should be deleted. There isn’t any other provision for filling them other than the election that took place in ’11. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Is that clear? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes sir. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Other members of the committee, any questions about this? Got a motion for Senator Brown for a vote on the amendment for Senate Bill 325. All in favor please say aye. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Aye. [SPEAKER CHANGES] All opposed, nay. Ayes have it. We have the Senate Bill 325 PCS as amended. Please explain it there, Senator Hunt. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Basically this bill does two things. We currently have nine school districts, and this bill changes that to seven individual districts and two regional districts, and the reason for that change is in several cases throughout Wake County, a parent may live in one school district and his child may go to school in another school district, and the parent needs to be able to vote for the school board member that represents the school that his child attends, so this would allow voters to vote for two school board members instead of one. The second thing this bill does is moves the election from odd years to even-numbered years to increase voter turnout, and the reason for that is the school board voting record of the past
-two years has been dismal because it's in an off-duty, off year. For example, in 2012 any general action at the county commissioners had 1,200,000 votes, and in 2011 school board elections, 69,000. This is county-wide. Similarly, in 2009, the school board numbers were 30,000 county-wide, and the general election that same year was over a million. So we need to increase voter turnout. Mr. Chairman, that's pretty much the nut of it. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chair. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Good question. Senator Nesbitt. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Could you get staff to tell us what's different about the committee substitute over the original bill? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, sir. Mr. Coleman, could you help us with that question? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Sure, Senator. How would you like me to- [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] That would be fine. In the original bill, the proposed transition would have been to shorten the terms of members election 2011 so they'd come up in 2014. It would have been to shorten some terms and lengthen others, and implement the new system in 2014. This adopts a different approach. No one's terms are shortened. Instead, the new system will be implemented in 2016 with the new districts, the lettered and numbered districts. The persons who are elected in 2011 will have their terms extended by six months. We'll have the regular school board elections this fall, but the four districts that would have been off the original bill would have cancelled that, but those people will be elected at two-and-a-half-year terms instead of four-year, so everyone will come up in 2016. So it eliminates the issue of shortening people's terms and which party's terms were shortened or lengthened or whatever because that basically has that issue resolved, I hope. The districts themselves are the same, however, as in the original bill. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Nesbitt. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Tell me, again, what the original bill did with the districts that'll be elected this year. [SPEAKER CHANGES] The original bill would have cancelled this fall's Wake County school board election in the four districts that would have come up, instead extending those people's terms by six months and have the election in next year's primary. About twenty counties have their school board elections in the primary. So that's what that would have done, and it would have shortened the terms of people who would have come up in 2015 to be eighteen months shorter, to expire in 2014. This scraps that approach. Instead, implementation is put off until 2016. We're going to elect some people this fall as they would have been elected, but for two and a half years instead of four, and lengthening by six months other people's terms so everybody comes up in 2016. [SPEAKER CHANGES] That clear, Senator Nesbitt? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yeah. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay. Senator McKissick, question. [SPEAKER CHANGES] It's probably a series of questions. Several of them. Senator Hunt, since the school board has not requested this, why are we doing this at this time because we got nine single member districts. Everybody's guaranteed some representation on the school board. And they just went back last year as result of the census, and reconfigured and drew the lines for the districts to make sure they were compliant. Why are we going back now when they have not requested it in trying to establish new districts for Wake County, particularly in light of all the controversy that's occurred over the last several years dealing with the Wake County school board. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator McKissick. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, sir. ?? question and answer.
the same reason I described before, we want- we don't need 9 individual school districts. This gives each voter a chance to vote for 2 instead of 1, and for the reason I described earlier, that's important. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Sen. McKissick, I understand that this model of this Wake county redrawing is modeled after the Durham county program, is that right Sen- Rep- Mr. Coen? Almost made you an officer here. [SPEAKER CHANGES] ?? The election and the primary and the runoff and second primary is in fact the same system that Durham county and Orange county have for their school boards, as well as the overlay of ?? districts to number districts are the same as similar to what Durham has for their school board. Durham has 3 layers though. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Question? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, quick follow up Mr. Coen. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] As I best recall when that was configured, and it was after there was a controversy relating to the merger of the Durham city school system, the Durham county school system, there was a lot of local input, a lot of local control that went into that process, it wasn't dictated by the state, as my recollections recall, and granted that was back in the early 90s, but- [SPEAKER CHANGES] That plan was adopted unanimously by the Durham county board of commissioners, but when they reached an impasse with the city and county school boards, then-Commisioner Chairman Bell asked me to draw that plan without consulting anyone in Durham because of all the deep divisions, so I drafted that plan which the commissioners then adopted unanimously, so it didn't have any input from me to the city and county school boards at the time. [SPEAKER CHANGES] But ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] But it was supported by the county commissioners. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Right, it was the county commissioners that took the action though. I mean I commend anybody who wants to get involved in the details of this. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Do you have any questions? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well I think that covers it, I would prefer to say as we're going to do this, to get a local's say so and control over the way these districts look, rather than us dictating it. And if the goal is to increase participation, that's one thing, but when it comes to dictating these lines to local government, you might know that I have serious concerns about this and particularly in the past when it came to other matters that came before us that was similar in nature. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Alright, thank you. Sen. Apodaca, question? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chairman, question for Sen. Hunt. Does the Wake county commissioners support this? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes they do, in fact there is a member, the Chairman is in the audience if you'd like to hear from him. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I'll take your for it but would be happy to listen to him. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Commissioner Brian, would you like to speak to us? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, why don't you step forward, and Chairman of the County Commission in Wake County, would you step forward and just help us get some clarity on this issue? Identify yourself please. You've got to press the button down please. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Ken. Sen Rucho, thank you for the opportunity to speak to the Senators. I'm Joe Brian, Chairman of the Wake County board of Commissioners, also past president of the North Carolina Association of county commissioners. This is one of our legislative goals from the county commissioners to increase participation in citizens having the right to bill the vote for more than one school board member, and Sen. Hunt has crafted a bill that does that, and our- the majority of our board supported and support this bill. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you sir. Sen. Apodaca? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chairman, motion. Mr. Chairman, I move that we give this a favorable report, unfavorable as to the original, favorable as to the amended bill. [SPEAKER CHANGES] We have that motion before us. Sen. Brock. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Just to make sure that I heard this correctly, Sen. Hunt, question, if there are currently people in the school districts in Wake County that people don't get to vote for the district representative where their kids go to school because they live in a different district? [SPEAKER CHANGES] That's possible, yes. The school may- The child may be bussed to a different school district, the parents live in district A, the child goes to school in district B, and the parent only gets to vote for the schoolboard member in district A. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up question. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Now they get to vote for someone who actually represents? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] It's a great idea. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Alright. Any additional questions or comments? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I do. Mr. Chairman. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Sen. Graham. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr. Chairman. Sen. Hunt, what was the vote count with the county commission? Was it a unanimous vote, was it a split vote? [SPEAKER CHANGES] No, it was a split vote. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Was it a partisan vote? [SPEAKER CHANGES] It was a partisan vote and a majority vote, yes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] What was the vote count? [SPEAKER CHANGES] One question. Excuse me, ma'am, would you please hand away? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I'm not sure, I think it was- I'm not sure. [SPEAKER CHANGES] You're not sure? [SPEAKER CHANGES] But
the majority vote. [SPEAKER CHANGES] We can- [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up question. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Did the school board vote? Are they in support of this? I'm from Charlotte, so I don't know. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Probably not. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Probably not. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Probably not. [SPEAKER CHANGES] So do you know the vote count that did take a vote? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I don't know the answer to that. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Is there a representative from the school board here? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Can we have someone from the school board speak to the bill? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Of course, that'll be part of the public discussion and they will be allowed to do so. Yes sir. By the way, it was a 4 to 3 vote, I was just informed of that. [SPEAKER CHANGES] 4 to 3? [SPEAKER CHANGES] In the county commission. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Can we get someone from the school board to speak now? As the chairman from the county commission did? [SPEAKER CHANGES] The school board, right at this point? Well, they were responding to a question What's your question. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Is there a representative here from the school board? [SPEAKER CHANGES] There is. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I'd like to know why they aren't in favor of this bill. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, I'll accept that. Please come forward and identify yourself. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Keith Sutton, Chair, White county school board. We are not in favor of this change, we have discussed this at our most recent meeting and next week at our next public meeting on the 23rd, I expect we'll have a majority of our board to support a resolution supporting the current districts as they are currently drawn. The districts were redrawn back in 2010, just after the census, we did reapportionment at that time, the districts were drawn, according to most redistricting principles where we respect the boundaries, kept most precincts intact, I think there were less than 10 precincts that were split, the deviation for all the districts was less than 1% with regard to the issue around the citizens being able to vote or not vote for the member that represents our district. Given we have about 31 magnet schools, it's quite likely that there are times where they live in one districtand have students attend school in another district. So because of that, and again our magnet school program, this fix would not address that issue particularly in any sort of way. So again, we support the current maps, as they are, and have not requested that this bill, the districts be redrawn at this time. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up? Follow up question? [SPEAKER CHANGES] You have a follow up question. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Sutton, what ?? I call you on? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up question to the chairman of the school board. [SPEAKER CHANGES] We have a cycle coming up this year, in 2013, we've got 9 members here on staggered terms that run every 2 years, and they run for 4 year terms. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Comment, Mr. Chairman. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Comment. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Here we go again. The state of North Carolina, this general assembly, this GOP, inserting its will on local governments. It is unfair, it is unwarranted, it is certainly political, and it doesn't serve the citizens of North Carolina whether it's in Charlotte, Greensboro, Ashville, throughout the state well. And in fact it weakens North Carolina, and it makes citizens across the state look upon this process as a mockery. Thank you Mr. Chairman. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you for your opinion. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chairman. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes sir Sen. Apodaca. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. A comment. It's amazing to me the gentleman from Mecklinburg wants to repress the vote and keep it in odd years so nobody comes out, nowhere near a majority so the minority party can keep control. That's kind of a mockery also. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Sen. Apodaca. Sen. Walters. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr. Chair. And this question is for Sen. Hunt. Sen. Hunt, the two at large seats, what criteria were they make- did you use to identify those? ?? to that question. [SPEAKER CHANGES] They're not at-large, they're regional districts. Basically, they were intended to give a vote to suburbs and rural areas, so you have a donut region, and you have an inner core region. So they're the 2 regions, so if you're living in a district, you will always be able to vote for 2 separate people. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, any additional questions from the committee? Sen. Nesbitt? [SPEAKER CHANGES] How is the Wake delegation on this bill, where are the Senators? Where are the House members too, if you know? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I think it's probably- I would expect it's a partisan to do,
[SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Do you know that for sure that all the republicans are in support of this? [SPEAKER CHANGES] This is hanging on there a little bit. [SPEAKER CHANGES] So, you can't even say that the republicans are united in this bill. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yeah, almost united. [SPEAKER CHANGES] You have followup question? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Just one. We are talking about more voters voting. Didn't I hear that this election is going to be ??. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Correct. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Why did you not move it to the general election? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. ??. Would you help us with that question? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Currently there are 6 counties that have the same system as Wake has for their school election cycle. One of the other ones is Mecklenburg also have their election in the odd numbered year. There are about 25 counties that have it in the primary and maybe 30 or so that have it in November. I think that when we looked at it, then we felt that ?? turned out in the primary somewhat less then in the general election. There be more visibility with ?? or ?? in the primary then at the very end of the general election ballet, below the judges and actually below the self conservation supervisor. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Do you want to follow up? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes. If I could. I think I heard him say it, it could have been done either way. It could be done as the generals, it could be done as primary. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I think what he said was, it would have more visibility on the ballet. Is that correct? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes. Obviously, it could be in the general election, it could be in the primary and it could be in the municipal. Those are the three systems used in North Carolina. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Alright. That’s the staff comment. Now, my question about senator Hunt is, why did you choose primary instead of the general elections? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Really, I was indifferent. Staff concurred just to do the primary. [SPEAKER CHANGES] He went on the advice of staff. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, I guess it’s a comment then. Staff is not here to make political decisions about, they are here to advise us on the law, on what’s possible and what we can do. The decision about when you hold an election if you can do it either two ways is for the member. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Go ahead, Senator Hunt. [SPEAKER CHANGES] It was totally not political. I mean, that’s why we let staff decide. I couldn’t care less. [SPEAKER CHANGES] He apparently made a decision based on staff’s recommendation of saying, these are your choices, and then they said, this is the one. Question? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Just a follow up. I really think that we are getting to point where we start blaming staff for these bills. That’s not fair to the staff. [SPEAKER CHANGES] That’s not what I said. [SPEAKER CHANGES] The members are doing these bills, not the staff. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Nesbitt that’s not what I said. You asked, where he got the information. Senator Brock? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I think I can answer senator Nesbitt’s question. If you are looking at the expense of running campaign, especially school board, things just where ?? on what’s going. You are looking at our own lottey could not advertise on TV during the month of October, during the last election cycle. Our lottery could not advertise on TV because they could not afford to buy TV time. If the lottery can’t afford TV time, how do you think school board is going to afford the same TV time as well? I mean as far as ?? having better visibility on the ballet, Mr. Cotham is right that having a primary is a better choice. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. Senator Mckissick. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I believe there is another Wake county commissioner that might want to address the issue, but Wake county commission support Miss Caroline. So if we could hear from her briefly. [SPEAKER CHANGES] She can go ahead and sign up and she will be allocated the time. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Kurby has the sheet back there. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Alright, I just wanted to make sure she has signed up. If not, I won’t recognize her. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I signed up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] She signed up. Thank you, Mr. Chair. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Alright. Any additional questions from the committee? We do have a motion on the floor but now, it’s the time for us to talk. Mr. Kurby, could we, and this is strictly on the Wake county bill, senate bill 325 PCS. Who do we have up there? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Excuse me, Sir. Mr. Chairman, ??, could you speak again? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay. Very good, thank you, sir. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Greg Flynn. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Flynn, please come forward and identify yourself and what organization you may be with. [SPEAKER CHANGES] My name is Greg Flynn, I am a Wake county resident, registered voter. I have a child in Wake county school system. I am a citizen, ??. I am categorically opposed to senate bill 32..
by of which unnecessarily redistricts Wake County, the Wake County School Board. I have not requested this and neither of the bills sponsors does the bills sponsors represent me in this matter. I would like to thank Senator McKissick of Durham and the Senator from Mecklenburg for representing my interest. The proposed districts are not compact and they're politically divisive. I'm currently on good terms with my School Board Representative Christine and if for some reason, Christine Kushner, and if for some reason we fell out I'm on reasonable good terms with other representatives. So I don't think that's a problem. This bill would put my child's elementary school, future middle school and future high school in seperate school board districts. My wife was in the first grade when Wake County schools were first integrated. The electoral system put in place in the 70s when that happened has worked well for nonpartisan elections. Its politicization in recent years is an unfortunate blemish on this record. This bill serves to magnify this blemish to an open festering sore. I don't want it. My child's education doesn't need it. Please kill this bill. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you for your comments. Mr. Kirby next please. [SPEAKER CHANGES] This is Amy ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Please identify yourself and two minutes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] My name is Amy ?? and I'm a Wake County grad. I have children in the Wake County Schools. I was unaware of the opportunity to speak so I've thrown this together on the fly. On confusion of changing, there will be great confusion if you change the districts now. This means that voters will have different districts for the third time in six years even with the proposed changes today. School voters districts as they stand now reflects school communities and municipalities. Districts as proposed are not approximate. District 6, for example, well let me jump to Mr. Hunt's district will make it more likely that someone's child will attend school outside their voting district. Hunt's districts do not follow school community municipalities. For example in District 6 now in the propsed plan Lacey Elementary is across the street from Martin Middle. They are in different districts in the Hunt Bill. There theatre High School Broughton is in a third different district in Huntsville. Currently they're all in one district. These two at large districts put the suburban areas against the urban areas of town. The changes will cost taxpayers $200,000 for new voter ID cards, voter cards, excuse me. 70% of the families in Wake County do not have children in the Wake County Schools, so Senator Hunt's first point is not valid. Parents are not clamoring for board members. The current board has implemented a stay where you start plan that offers stabilities to our families. This bill will do nothing but bring back chaos and instability and it is big state government interfering in local issues. Once again thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you for your thoughts. Mr. Kirby next please. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes Mrs. Margaret Arbuckle. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes I'm here to speak on the Guilford Bill. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yeah. No, hold the Guilford Bill. We want folks to just speak on the Wake Bill 325 right now, Senate Bill 325. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mrs. Latice Rhodes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Good afternoon my name is Latice Rhodes. I live here in Wake County and I'm here to speak for myself, my community and many who believe as I do. First I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak and offer the suggestion that there be a way to let people, the public, know ahead of time. I've come to meetings previously prepared to speak where there was no opportunity and today I was not prepared. Thank you for this. When my son was in school in Wake County, he often because of the magnate program was in a different district from our home, it did not matter. If that is a problem to other people then certainly a suggestion of district's other than Senator Hunt's might go to solve that. Our districts were redefined recently at additional cost, considerable cost to the taxpayers. Currently the current districts would damage the school boards effectiveness potentially because this, each school board member would, by definition, be accountable, be responsible for more schools. Currently they have a very good relation, working relationship, with each of their schools and they're very familiar with the set of needs and speak to them and work with them
Effectively. This stands to change to increase those numbers. Finally, as a citizen, I voted in all the recent school board elections for certain members and certain terms and it feels to me, regardless of the changes suggested today, that that is undemocratic. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you for being here today. [SPEAKER CHANGES] County Commissioner Caroline Sullivan. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Welcome Sullivan, please identify yourself and [SPEAKER CHANGES] Hey I'm Caroline Sullivan. I'm a County Commissioner for Wake County and I also have 2 children in the Wake County Public Schools. I just have 2 explanations or points I wanted to make real quick regarding what happened on our board. It was a 4 to 3 partisan vote but what our majority was asking for was to drive the majority of the school board members to be able to elected on by our votes. For example so they wanted 5 at large seats and 4 district seats. We all run at large so we run county wide. I think the thinking was in the system we have now is only district, there was no at large seats and this would enable our voters to participate in more elections. What we have now is no at-large seats. And as somebody who just ran the difference between running in a district of 330 thousand, or it would end up being 400 thousand people verses almost 900 thousand people. It doesn't matter - it doesn't cut - I don't think it does anything ?? campaigns and I think it isn't necessarily helpful for you if you're running. The also thing that I'm very concerned about is expense it's going to incur on the county. It's going to cost us 230 thousand dollars to reprint and resend out voter ID cards which we're going to have to do because of this. We just did it 2 years ago with the last redistricting. Also with the way putting a general election on a primary ballot, the printing expenses are going to be substantial for us and it's going to be quite confusing cause if you go in to vote in a primary you might have a democratic primary ballot and then the school board general. There's also going to be whole bunch of voters that don't want to participate in a partisan election but do want to vote for school board so that's a whole 3rd silo of ballots we have to print so I urge y'all to not pass this through because the county expense is going to be substantial. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. Any others for Wake County and then we need to move forward here. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Miss Mary Jane Swecker. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Alright. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. My name is Mary Jane Swecker. I am a parent in the Wake County School system I'm a parent leader in the Wake County School system and I am a graduate of the Wake County School System. Like Ms. ?? I was not expecting to speak today but as I heard the discussion I felt like I needed to make my voice heard. I do speak for myself, I am not representing a parent group in Wake County. I want to address first of all the idea of increasing voter turnout by moving the election to a different time frame. People who are invested in Wake County schools and have an opinion on Wake County school board will turn out for a school board election if they have an opinion. I'm sure you, as elected officials, would not want random people showing up who have no idea who you are and just marking a name because it just happens to be on a ballot. I do not feel that's a concern in terms of voter turnout. Those who want to vote will turnout. My second comment is that I currently do not live in the same district in which my children go to school. I'm rather thankful for that because the school board rep that represents my home address has not responded to my emails but my school board rep who represents my child's school has as well as other school board members. I feel that the school board does a good job of representing all things of the county not just a specific school. I also don't think that is an issue. I'm also had not heard before that it was an issue of only being able to vote for one school board member. There may be some parents who feel that way but for me that has not been an issue. My last and biggest concern is I want to know how many people in here have talked to principals, have talked to staff, have talked to teachers, have talked to students and parents about how this plan would effect them. You guys can pass whatever committee bill or state bill you want to and then you can walk away and go on and move on to other bills but the decisions you make are going to impact the day-to-day lives of the children in Wake county and I want to make sure that their needs have been addressed and the needs of the teachers have been addressed and that the investigation has been done to find out really what are the needs and the opinions of our educators in Wake county. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much. [SPEAKER CHANGES] There are 2 more, Mr. Chairman. Barbara Vandenberg. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Alright hopefully we bring on some new information. [SPEAKER CHANGES] There have been many, many good points made today. My name is Barbara
I am a Wake County representative and I'm one of the seventy percent who don't have children in the Wake County school but I believe in strong public education I won't reiterate many of the points that have already been made. I will just end with this. When can we expect a bill that will allow us to vote for two senators. We don't need this bill. We have a very good system in Wake County. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much. [SPEAKER CHANGES] In last of Mrs. Chairman Anita Earls. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Welcome Mrs. Earls, good to have you back in front of the committee. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr. Chairman. I wil be very brief. My name is Anita Earls. I represent several Wake County voters and on March 25th I testified in front of a hearing that the Wake County delegation had unprepared written comments that outlined the major concerns that my clients have with this proposal as well as the ways in which we think that the new districts are constitutional, and I just wanted copies of this testimony for the committee as well. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Would you give it to Mr. Kirby and we'll be sure every member gets a copy of that. Thanks for seeing you again. Alright. Any other questions from the committee? [SPEAKER CHANGES] There's an additional comment if I'm allowed to give my opinion. [SPEAKER CHANGES] You've got one so go ahead. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, that's why the people for this district sent me here to express my opinion. I will do that continuously. Again not to be redundant, but you know listening to the people listening to the board member I'm intelligent enough to separate the politics from the policy. And so I'm done that and being here a number of years I'm able to watch the local news and the newspaper, so I'm pretty impressed with what's going on here. It is the politics that seem to be overriding the policy here. All the speakers spoke against doing this bill except one or two maybe. There's no consensus in Wake County, no consensus in Mecklenburg either, as you can tell. But there's no consensus in Wake County to move this bill forward. It's yet again another example as I said earlier of the general assembly impeding upon the wishes of local communities. And it's just not good politics, certainly not good policy. And I'll be voting against it. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, OK, no additional comments. We've got a motion from Senator Apodaca to for a favorable report on Senate Bill 325PCS is amended and unfavorable to the original SB325. [SPEAKER CHANGES] And we'll be rolling that into a new substitute. [SPEAKER CHANGES] And we'll be rolling that into a new substitute. Thank you Mr Collin. Alright, all in favor for that motion please say I. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I. [SPEAKER CHANGES] All opposed, they nay. [SPEAKER CHANGES] No. [SPEAKER CHANGES] The I's have it. Alright, moving on to Senate Bill 317. Senator Wade will try to move forward on this bill and if you'll be kind enough there is no PCS so it's the original bill. [SPEAKER CHANGES] It's written there is a PCS. [SPEAKER CHANGES] There is a PCS, OK. I got a motion for Senator Apodaca to accept a PCS for discussion on Senate Bill 317. All in favor please say I. All opposed nay. I's have it. Thank you Senator Brunstetter. Please. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr. Chairman. This is for Gil County school board redistricting. This is really been brought forth by some constituents that came to me. Several constituents that wanted more first off for the school board to be more in line now with the county commissioners which were recently redistricted. This does that. This brings them more in line with the county commissioners. Also they were worried about voter participation. In our last election in November we had 182,000 voters that voted in our schoolhouse race which was 74,000 people less who voted for the Partisan presidential race. So there's about a dropoff of a third or a fourth of the people. It is to encourage voter participation and actually I'm going to let a staff go through the plan to save time here . We can just hear from staff if that's OK Mr. Chairman. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, Mr. Cohen can you help us? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, the difference between the original and the proposed committee substitute, the original bill had two at-large seeds like it's currently the method
limited voting, each person could vote in the primary and general election for only one candidate. Each party could nominate only one for the at large seat. Instead the PCS has 2 letter districts similar in concept similar to the Wake County bill you just approved and to Durham County and one other county with an overlay district and so each person will be voting for one of the number districts in one of the letters and each of the letter districts is half the county. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay. Questions. Senator Brock. [SPEAKER CHANGES] At this time I would like to move for a favorable report. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Alright, we will hold the favorable report motion for the moment. Okay, just make sure that everybody has their documentation. Senator McKissick, question? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, let me ask you this. Why did you decide to move from non-partisan elections to partisan elections and shorten the terms from four years to two years? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, certainly partisan elections have more participation and I'll just tell you the last election in November we had six seats up, only one of those seats was contested. All the others were unopposed and it's pretty much been that way. This gives votes more education if they know what party they are in and that's what we are trying to do, get more participation in that area and what was your other question, sir? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Why shorten the terms from four years to two years? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well I am going to let Mr. Cohen answer that. It was so you didn't have to cut there four year terms and if we had changed now and hadn't phased it in from 2014 to 2016 people would lose part of their terms but I will let him explain. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, that is correct. We are not cutting off anyone's terms but this bill goes to a new cycle, it will be two year terms instead of four. We couldn't implement it in 2014 because people were in the middle of their current four year terms and that would lead to the same problem that resulted in litigation for last year's Guilford Commissioner bill so this avoids, recognizes those issues and doesn't have that same problem again. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up, Senator McKissick. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Is this subject to Section 5 review if it passes? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay and second follow up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] It is my understanding that Guilford School, excuse me, Guilford Educational Alliance as well as the school board is opposed to this plan as you proposed it, is that correct? [SPEAKER CHANGES] That would be correct. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay. Just one quick comment. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Quick comment. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I get deeply disturbed when we are moving non-partisan elections to partisan elections. I think that we really want to increase turnout, we want people to vote on the merit of people. I get deeply concerned, particularly when we don't have a local group that is being impacted, the school board asking for this or favoring it or county commissioners to my knowledge and you do have educational alliances significantly imposed to it and really I would not want to impose upon anybody two year election cycles. To the extent to which you can have four year election cycles it is certainly more cost effective; you don't have to go back out there all time time running and campaigning and get some things done. I think those that are having to run every two years, it puts a great deal of burden and responsibility upon us, including those of us in this room so I wish we were not moving in this direction, particularly not without the request specifically of the local boards that are impacted. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, sir. Senator Hise. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chair. Just to make sure I am clear because I haven't yet learned to read district numbers. This marked with nine districts is the current plan and the one marked with nine number districts and two letter districts is the plan that we are moving to? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, Mr. Woodcock? He is counsel to the.. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Hise, just for your information, included among your MAP packs is the 2011 plan as adopted. Senate Bill 317 is what's before you know. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Then a follow up question. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up question. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Just to ask, looking at the letter districts again, kind of an outside, seems to be the county area and the more urban inside area. I don't represent Guilford County or ?? but would you say that those areas represent common communities of interest and their rates for being urban or rural comparatively? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes sir. The rural county has a hard time getting elected at large. In fact I can't remember in recent times anyone from the rural area having that opportunity. Usually the deciding voice comes from the more urban areas. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. Any additional questions? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. ??
Thank you, Mr. Chair. My concern is, when we’re going form four years to two years, what’s the additional cost to the county for these elections? [Speaker Changes] Right now they’re staggered four year terms. This makes them two years, so there will still be a school board election every two years. That’s no change. It’s just that under the prior system only half the members were up each year, plus the at large. This time all the members will be up. [Speaker Changes] Thank you, Mr. Cohen. We’re all set. [Speaker Changes] ?? [Speaker Changes] Where am I? [Speaker Changes] Right here. [Speaker Changes] Yes, sir. [Speaker Changes] Thank you, sir. You indicated there’s no rural members at all that’s been elected? [Speaker Changes] No, sir, that’s not what I said. The chances of an at-large rural area person being elected are very slim, because usually the urban areas will decide who’s elected from those areas. [Speaker Changes] But there is a rural individual that’s been elected? [Speaker Changes] Well, there’s districts, sir. [Speaker Changes] Okay. [Speaker Changes] I’m sorry. What was the…? [Speaker Changes] We answered. [Speaker Changes] It’s all set. Okay. Additional questions? [Speaker Changes] Mr. Chairman? [Speaker Changes] Yes, sir. [Speaker Changes] How are the current districts ?? [Speaker Changes] How are they..? [Speaker Changes] The current districts, that is the ?? [Speaker Changes] Right now, the current system? Well, they’re a little different from what was done, I think, 20 years ago, when they were done by the general assembly. But the school board since then has, I think, tweaked it a little bit. [Speaker Changes] Were they not voted on by the people? [Speaker Changes] The districts? [Speaker Changes] Yes, the school districts in Guilford County. [Speaker Changes] Okay, Senator Clark, you all set? [Speaker Changes] I’m fine. [Speaker Changes] Okay. Any ?? Senator Nesbitt. [Speaker Changes] Let me ask you this. This is a common theme in these two bills. Why did you opt against four year terms that were staggered so that you had some continuity on the school board? Under this, it could flip nine members, to nine new ones, to nine new ones, to nine new ones, and which would, in my mind, would generate chaos over there if you didn’t have somebody that had some institutional history. [Speaker Changes] Well, Senator, I think that probably could be said about the Senate also. But I think, in my personal opinion, people should have the right to decide on what type job you’re doing as soon as possible. Every two years seems to me, if it’s fine for the Senate and fine for the House and I think it’s been fine for city councils. I think it would be appropriate for the citizens to have a chance to grade you on the job you’re doing every two years. And I think every possibility to get citizen participation is what we try to do. [Speaker Changes] Thank you. Additional questions? [Speaker Changes] Mr. Chairman. [Speaker Changes] Mr. Clark. [Speaker Changes] I have a need for clarification. [Speaker Changes] Yes, sir. [Speaker Changes] I guess I need to have clarification on this. It says, current law SL199178 establishes the current structure of the consolidated Guilford County Board of Education, as approved by voter referendum. What does that mean? [Speaker Changes] There were three school boards… there were three school districts. The 1991 session of the legislature passed a bill setting up a referendum to merge all three. There was a district plan in that bill that was approved, but authority was given to the county commissioners to redistrict after each census, which they did in 2001 and 2011. I mean, the school board redistricted based on population in 2001 and 2011. But the initial plan was approved in a referendum in 1991 when the three systems were merged by legislative act which had the set of districts in the bill. [Speaker Changes] Thank you. [Speaker Changes] Okay. Any additional questions from the committee? Seeing none. Mr. Kirby, other speakers from the public? [Speaker Changes] Yes, sir. Mrs. Margaret Arbuckle. [Speaker Changes] All right. Please identify yourself and you have two minutes, please. [Speaker Changes] Thank you, Senator. [Speaker Changes] You might want to press… You have to pull that button down so that we can hear you. [Speaker Changes] Thank you. I’m Margaret Arbuckle. I am Executive Director of Guilford Education Alliance, which is a county-wide, non-profit organization that advocates for quality public education. We represent the entire county of Guilford, and I have attached to a handout that I’ve provided to you our position of opposition to this and some reasons why, as well as a list of our board members. And also given to you, reasons that the Board of Education voted unanimously against this. We have had in place, since 1991, a representative districts drawn across our county that represent all the three districts that were merged and all the citizens of Guilford County, as well as two elected at-large board members. One of those at-large board members does represent a rural part of the county and has been reelected.
just recently. Our board works very effectively together. There are Democrats and Republicans on the board. They do not wear their partisanship on their sleeves. What they do and feel deeply commited to, is representing the parents and children and administrators and teachers and citizens of Guildford County to strive to have the best school district in North Carolina and one of the best in the country. And they are moving in that direction. We have the highest graduation rate, the lowest dropout rate, the largest number of choices in schools, both magnet (??) and small high schools. We have an excellent superintendent. We do not want you to mess with our school district. Please oppose this bill. [SPEAKER CHANGES]: Thank you very much. Any additional speakers? [SPEAKER CHANGES]: Nothing. That's all. SPEAKER CHANGES: Okay. I have a motion from Senator Brock for a favor report for the PCS of Senate bill 317, and unfavorable to the original bill. Any discussion? Seeing none. All in favor of that motion, please say Aye. All opposed, Nay. Ayes have it. That concludes this meeting of ??. Thank you very much.