Plan to redraw districts for Jasper County school board opposed

sbowman@beaufortgazette.comMay 18, 2014 

State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, a Democrat from Jasper County, introduced a bill May 1 to redraw the county's school board districts.

A proposal to redraw Jasper County Board of Education districts is raising concerns again.

State Sen. Clementa Pinckney first tried to have the lines redrawn during the 2011-12 legislative session. That proposal failed. The Democrat from Jasper County introduced a similar bill May 1 in the Senate.

The legislation would redraw the districts for the November 2014 elections so that the county's population is more evenly distributed within them, Pinckney said. His proposal has not yet come up for a vote.

State Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton, who played a key role in killing Pinckney's first bill, said he is also against the new proposal.

"I would say that the majority of the (Jasper County) legislative delegation is not in favor of this plan," Herbkersman said.

The school board is made up of representatives from nine single-member districts.

The legislative delegation agrees the districts need to be redrawn, Herbkersman said. They have not been updated since 1998, and the population in the county has shifted, Pinckney said.

Based on the most recent census data, there is a deviation of 62 percent between the smallest and largest districts in the county, according to Bobby Bowers, director of the division of research and statistics for the S.C. Budget and Control Board. He told Pinckney in a letter that the recommended deviation range is no more than 10 percent.

"All across the map, the population has shifted a good bit," Pinckney said. "So our districts do not have equal populations right now, but they need to be equal to be fair and in compliance."

But Herbkersman said Pinckney's plan is flawed because it puts some current school board members in the same districts, which would force them to rerun for the seats. That is the case for Debora Butler and Bennie Hazel, as well as Randy Horton and Alina Hamilton-Clark.

Pinckney said that was inevitable if the districts are to accurately reflect the population.

The delegation and residents also have raised concerns about how quickly the plan was created and said it involved little community input.

Pinckney has scheduled a public meeting for 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Jasper County Council Chambers to present the plan to the public. But Herbkersman said the community should have been involved in the creation of the plan.

School board member Tedd Moyd, who represents Hardeeville, said he is not familiar enough with the plan to comment, but wishes there had been more notice.

"I do think the process should have involved everyone, all the members, the public and the delegation," Moyd said.

Pinckney said he hopes to get the bill passed before the current session ends June 5, but Herbkersman said he won't allow it to pass the House.

Herbkersman added that he and other delegation members are pursuing several options, such as drawing the districts to mirror those of the Jasper County Council. Any proposals will involve public input, he said.

"There are just too many stakeholders that need to be a part of this conversation that were totally left out of it," Herbkersman said. "We think there is a better way, and we'll find it."

Follow reporter Sarah Bowman at

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Documents show existing districts and statistics ("Benchmark Plan") and the proposed districts and statistics. These documents were received by the Island Packet newspaper on May 16, 2014.

Jasper County school redistricting proposal

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