Under the provisions of House Bill 978, Cherokee County voters will vote by post for six school board members and choose a chair elected county-wide.
At present, the school board has seven representatives elected county-wide and members elect their own chair and vice chair.
School Board Chair Mike Chapman and Vice Chair Janet Read appear to be drawn out of their posts and into posts already held by seated school board members by the new legislation, according to initial analysis of the bill by school officials.
Legislators would not return phone calls by the Cherokee Tribune to comment on the legislation.
Chapman now appears to be in Post 6, held by Robert Wofford or possibly in the new Post 2, and Read lives in the Rose Creek precinct, which is in Post 4, held by Rob Usher, under the provisions of the legislation. Post 4 is in the Woodstock area, including parts of Towne Lake. Post 6 includes portions of R.T. Jones precinct, Canton, Sutallee and north Cherokee County.
No maps showing the new districts were available for review by school officials on Thursday, but the legislation did include precinct information and census information for each new post.
School Board Attorney Tom Roach said he requested maps showing the new districts from the Office of Reapportionment, but he did not receive them.
Those incumbent school board members whose posts are not up for re-election in 2012 will retain their seats, according to the legislation. Those include Post 3 School Board Member Michael Geist, Post 5 School Board Member Rick Steiner, Usher and Wofford.
Post 7 School Board Member Kim Cochran, who is up for re-election in 2012, was redistricted into newly created Post 2, which includes Free Home and east Cherokee County, and appears to be the only current school board member to reside in that post.
The new Post 1, which covers Bridgemill, Holly Springs, and Toonigh, does not have a seated school board residing in the district, school officials say.
Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock), Rep. Sean Jerguson (R-Holly Springs), Rep. Mark Hamilton (R-Cumming) and Rep. Calvin Hill (R-Canton) all signed off on the legislation which is now in the House Rules Committee.
Roach said Thursday there is no local precedent for school board members ever being drawn out of their posts.
“I have not had a chance to speak to the board. I assume that will be at the next meeting,” Roach said. “To a great extent, we are in the dark on this.”
Read said she was not surprised, but disappointed by the decision and that it was absolutely in response to her vote to strike down Cherokee Charter Academy’s petition for approval as a district school.
“They’ve said all along that they would draw me out,” Read said. “It’s not a newsflash to me.”
Chapman said he was also not surprised by the legislators’ proposal. He said though he doesn’t know when legislators will vote on the bill, they have some time before the vote and suggests they change their decision.
“They do have a chance to reconsider their actions and change what they are doing,” Chapman said. “I would strongly urge them to consider doing so.”
Read said after talking to people in the community, there still seemed to be “a lot of confusion,” especially regarding the Blue Ribbon Committee.
“I don’t think they had a consensus,” she said, adding that about four of those on the panel were part of the Republican Party leadership who asked her to renounce her party affiliation following her vote against Cherokee Charter Academy.
Chapman said he also thought his vote against the charter school was part of the equation.
Of all factors considered, including school system maps, town hall meetings, teachers-only meetings and the Blue Ribbon Committee, Read said she didn’t know what made legislators decide on this new map.
“I think I’ve done an outstanding job as a school board member,” Read said. “If people did not like my stance, why not let voters answer at the ballot box instead of taking the decision out of their hands?”
Read said she is considering her next move. She said she may run for state House District 20 against incumbent Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock) or for Georgia Senate District 21 against incumbent Sen. Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock). She is also considering running for the newly created position of countywide chair.
“I’m going to look at all of my options,” Read said. “I think with my experience, I would definitely be an asset for not only the people in my post, but throughout the state.”
Chapman said he is not yet ready to announce his political plans.
The school board voted in August to request that the Legislature adopt a redistricting plan that would leave in place a plan that elected seven posts countywide with no elected chair.
Since that time, the Legislators appointed a Blue Ribbon Committee to get feedback on how school board members are elected. The committee recommended six board members elected within their respective posts and a chairman elected at large.