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Director Redistricting Proposal and FAQs

Port Townsend Schools Director Redistricting Proposal and FAQS (Posted 5/2/18)

The current school board of directors has started a process to seek community input on a redistricting plan.  The plan calls for a dissolution of the current five-director district structure, and change to a three-director district structure with two at large directors.  

In a recent online outreach, there was support for the proposal and statements of confidence in the current board of directors and their judgement.  There were questions about the duties of a director, logistics of a change and cost of the proposal.  The following FAQ is designed to answer some of those questions.

Additional questions may be sent to John Polm, Port Townsend School District Superintendent, at jpolm@ptschools.org.

Why is the school board considering redistricting?
The consensus is that it has been difficult at times to find candidates for school board membership.  Recent elections have realized no contested elections, and three of the current directors were originally seated by appointment.  The change will enable the at large positions to be filled by a person within any of the new three boundary districts.

Logistics

What will redistricting look like?
The board will need to obtain permission from voters to dissolve the existing director districts and "reapportion" them into two at large and three director districts.  There are several laws and policies that guide this process.  The Board must work with the State Redistricting Commission to develop and approve a plan.

How would the board account for equity in representation for new boundaries?
Districts typically redistrict every ten years in alignment with the census.  The board would contract with a company who uses census data to compose districts.  In 2011, Sammamish Data Systems, Inc. did the analysis and provided mapping.  The plan must be shared in public meetings and must not disfavor any racial or political group.  In addition, the proposed new districts must be compact, nearly equal, geographically contiguous, and consistent with natural community boundaries.

How much would this proposal cost?
The most significant cost associated with this proposal would be the cost of running a local ballot measure.  There would be two issues on the ballot, one dissolving the existing director districts, and one creating the three new districts and two at large positions.  In addition, it would require contracting with a company to analyze census data and create equitable districts.  It is difficult to accurately predict election costs, but a rough estimate would be $15,000 per election.  The total one time contracting for redistricting costs are not estimated to exceed $1000.

Board of Directors

What is a school board?
School boards are the link between public schools and the communities they serve.  School board members in Washington state are officially called school directors, as defined in statute (RCW 28A.315.343) and make up the governing body - the school board - in each school district.

What do school directors do?
According to the Washington State School Directors' Association, school boards
1. create a community-wide, shared vision and set goals for improving student  achievement;
2. create the conditions and direct the resources for accelerating improvement;
3. hold the system accountable to high and equitable achievement for each and every student;
4. communicate needs and progress of students to the community; and
5. build public will to improve outcomes for all students and succeed in reaching the district's student achievement goals.

Who are Port Townsend's Directors?
Port Townsend Schools currently have five directors who represent one of five director districts.  The directors provide oversight and accountability through policy development, budget approval, and supervision of the superintendent.  The directors hire and evaluate the superintendent who serves as the chief administrator of the school district.

How long does a board member serve?
School board members are elected to four-year terms.  Each board member represents a geographic area based on the population.  Maps of director districts and a narrative description of the district boundaries are available on the district website Directors and Districts page.

How often do the directors meet?
The Port Townsend School District Board of Directors meet twice a month (usually the first and third Thursday) in Room S-11, Gael Stuart Building, 1610 Blaine Street.  Meetings begin at 5:30 p.m.  The board may also call for an Executive Session (which is closed to the public) during the meeting.  Some meetings may be at school building sites, which will be indicated in the announcement of the meeting on the main page of this website.  The first meeting of the month is a Work/Study session.  At this session the board will do in-depth study on a variety of topics.  This format will allow more informal interaction with the audience regarding the items on the agenda.  The second meeting of the month will be a regular business meeting.  Action will be taken at that meeting.  On months with only one board meeting (December and July) the meeting will be a regular business meeting.

Do School Board Directors get paid?
In some districts school directors are paid for meeting attendance.  In Port Townsend the directors are not paid, although they can be reimbursed for travel if on district business.  Serving on a local school board can be challenging at times, however, most school directors will report that there are great rewards in helping students and giving back to the community.