Gwinnett County Public Schools is turning to the Georgia General Assembly to not only approve a reapportionment map for the county’s school board, but to also have one of its offices draw up the map.
The school board voted Thursday night to contract with the legislature’s Reapportionment Office to draw the new school board district map that will be submitted to the Georgia General Assembly next year for approval. That map will be used for school board elections for the next decade, starting in 2022.
“It was the option that we felt was most appropriate for our current context,” Superintendent Calvin Watts said.
The Georgia General Assembly is tasked with redrawing congressional, legislative, county commission and school board districts once a decade after data from the decennial census is released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The census bureau released the local data to the states earlier this fall, and the Georgia General Assembly is set to convene for a special session in November to approve congressional and legislative maps. County commission and school board seats are not expected to be handled by the legislature, however, until the 2022 regular session begins in January.
County governments and school boards typically propose maps to their local legislative delegation to get approved in the General Assembly, but they have different options on how to draw those maps.
One option is that the county government or the school system could have its own internal data teams draw maps using the census data and a geographic information system. The other is to ask the Reapportionment Office to draw up the proposed map.
By going to the Reapportionment Office and having it draw the new school board district map, the school system is effectively saving a step in the process of getting a map to legislators.
Although the data needed to draw redistricting maps for Gwinnett County commission districts won't be available until this fall, the county's leaders are already pondering how to solicit public input on the new maps.
Gwinnett County commissioners, who have been pondering how to solicit public input on their own new map for commission districts, were told by one of their attorneys earlier this year that, regardless of which option a local government chose, the Reapportionment Office would have to review and sign off on the map before it could be introduced in the General Assembly.
As for whether that was a factor in GCPS’ decision to use the Reapportionment Office, however, Watts only said, “we’re just following the process.”