To be 3, or not to be
Should school board regions be redrawn? That is the question
The board of education is elected from three regions.
Those two don’t seem to make sense, and it does not have to be that way.
The board regions have remained the same since 2002 when the Warren County Court of Common Pleas found in favor of a citizen proposal over a district proposal.
The district advocated a region-less county with all board members elected at-large. The three-region system won.
The two sides argued for their respective positions and brought up what they perceived to be the advantages of each.
At that time, there were five district high schools. Three of them were in the same region. The remaining two were in another, leaving none for the third.
And the 2000 census showed that the old regions were not equitable in terms of population.
That old set-up changed.
Maybe things should change again.
There are a number of possibilities.
In this exercise, we map out the options for a region-free county, and two, three, and four regions. We stop short of looking at five or more regions. That kind of process would be legal. We just don’t think it makes sense.
So, we’re looking at no regions — effectively the same as one region — two, three, and four regions. In all cases, the townships that are currently not part of the district — Southwest, Spring Creek, and Columbus — are left out.
The basic framework for the mapping is that regions be contiguous, not break up any voting precincts, and contain similar numbers of people. There are about 38,000 people in the parts of the county that attend Warren County School District.
We used 2010 census data and got to work.
With no regions, it’s pretty simple. No lines on the map. And there is only one way to handle the election — nine at-large board members.
There are two ways to set up with four regions: two board members per region and one at-large or one member per region and five at large.
In order to make our four-region map work, we made the City of Warren one region of 9,710 people.
The northern region includes Pine Grove, Conewango, Farmington, and Sugar Grove townships, and Sugar Grove Borough. There are 9,885 people in those municipalities according to the census data.
The western region includes Eldred, Freehold, Pittsfield, Deerfield, Triumph, Brokenstraw, Limestone, and Watson townships, and Bear Lake, Tidioute, and Youngsville boroughs. There are 9,368 people there.
Finally, the eastern region is Elk, Glade, Mead, Pleasant, Sheffield, and Cherry Grove townships, and Clarendon Borough. That’s 9,445 people.
The familiar three-region map stays.
The City of Warren, and Glade and Elk townships are one region.
Freehold, Sugar Grove, Farmington, Pine Grove, Pittsfield, and Brokenstraw townships, and Bear Lake and Youngsville boroughs make up a second region.
The borders make as much sense as they can — Conewango looks out of place, but its population makes it hard to move — and the population numbers are very good.
There are three options with three regions — one, two, or three members from each, with the remainder at-large.
The Times Observer staff is quite proud of its two-region map.
It is not inherently better. We don’t think it is the model that should be chosen. It just works out.
On the west are: Freehold, Sugar Grove, Farmington, Pittsfield, Brokenstraw, Conewango, Eldred, Deerfield, Triumph, Limestone, Watson, Pleasant, and Cherry Grove townships, and Bear Lake, Tidioute, and Youngsville boroughs. In the east are Pine Grove, Elk, Glade, Mead, and Sheffield townships, Clarendon Borough, and the City of Warren.
In the west there are 19,218 people. In the east there are 19,190. That’s a difference of 28 people or about one seventh of one percent.
There are four different ways to elect the board members from two regions — one, two, three, or four members from each, and the remainder at-large.