School Board Takes on Redistricting

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Education: Plan aims to even out population representation

Don’t worry Barranca Elementary School parents, Los Alamos Board of Education President Kevin Honnell is still in your corner.

However, due to redistricting, Honnell has been moved from 4 into the same district as Board member David Foster, according to the new plan.

“What we wanted in this is that we wanted every district to have an elementary school,” LAPS Superintendent Gene Schmidt said, adding that one of the outcomes of the one elementary school, one district plan is that Honnell will now be sharing space with District 4 representative David Foster.

“One of the things that happens in this new model is that Dave and Kevin’s house placements are now in District 5, but Kevin will still continue to represent his District 4,” Schmidt said.

Honnell wasn’t at the meeting to comment on the changes, but Foster was. He said the change was fine with him.

“I don’t see this as a problem, it’s two years out and I think everything has worked out just fine,” Foster said. “When we get elected, we basically focus on the entire school district.”

When Honnell was contacted later, he said essentially the same thing.

“It’s a far better plan than we currently have right now,” Honnell said. It’s much more equitable, it’s elementary school centric,” Honnell said.

Board member Melanie McKinley and School Board Vice President Dawn Venhaus carried out the project.

Venhaus said they used a number of factors as a guide when it came to balancing out the districts.

“The districts have to be contiguous, they can’t divide any communities of interest and Melanie and I thought that elementary schools really are a community of interest,” Venhaus said.

With that in mind, McKinley and Venhaus used one elementary school per district as a rule of thumb.

“That tended to work out fairly well and people seemed to be happy with that,” Venhaus said.

One of the bigger factors was that after every 10-year census, the board is required to examine the populations in each district and balance them out so they are fairly even. Venhaus said their research led them to believe that is somewhere within a maximum of 10 percent difference.