GUILFORD COUNTY — The Guilford County Board of Education has a little less than two months to craft new district lines for next year’s election to fill five seats on the nine-member board.
So far the school board hasn’t held hearings on redistricting, unlike the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, who took up their redistricting starting this past summer.
The school board is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. today in a remote, virtual meeting, but as of Monday afternoon the meeting agenda didn’t include redistricting.
Democratic school board member Khem Irby, whose District 6 covers parts of High Point, said the board will have to make quick work of redistricting. Candidate filing for next year’s elections begins Dec. 6, with party primaries March 8.
“It’s going to be a discussion, and we don’t have much time,” Irby told The High Point Enterprise. “With so much focus on the schools, redistricting was low as far as prioritizing, I think. But now it’s crunch time.”
The school board seats on the ballot in 2022 are districts 2, 4, 6 and 8 and the lone countywide at-large post.
Districts 2 and 6 cover parts of High Point, though that could change in redistricting. No High Point residents have served on the school board in the past three years.
School board members had their last redistricting plan imposed on them in the middle of the previous decade through a bill passed in the Republican-controlled N.C. General Assembly. The bill, ushered through the legislature by former state Sen. Trudy Wade of Guilford County, changed the county’s school board elections from nonpartisan to partisan, eliminated two board seats and had the school board district lines match those imposed earlier on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners by the General Assembly.
Wade’s legislation, passed eight years ago, took effect with the 2016 election.
Irby told The Enterprise that the school board could accept the same redistricting boundaries as the ones that will be adopted for next year by the commissioners, which would make the process quicker and make it easier for voters to know in which school board and commissioner districts they live.
“I kind of like mirroring the county commissioners because we are a county board as well,” Irby said. “But I can also understand if the board wants to go back to being different.”
Last decade in the wake of the legislature’s intervention, Republicans controlled the Guilford County Board of Commissioners by a 5-4 margin from the 2012 through the 2018 elections. But the Democrats took a 7-2 advantage on that board after last year’s general election.
Republicans never gained control of the school board under the imposed redistricting plan. Democrats held a 5-4 edge after the 2016 general election and padded the margin to 6-3 after the 2018 and 2020 races.
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