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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

New redistricting plan raises questions for North Putnam

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Map shows redistricting boundary lines.
A new plan for redistricting North Putnam for the 2014 election year is up for review, and the school will begin rolling out town meetings to explain the plan to all of the voters in the corporation.

In October, North Putnam was hit with a lawsuit that dealt with the unfair districting of the townships.

This lawsuit has had the North Putnam School Board coming up with ideas and a plan to redistrict the school district.

The North Putnam School Board has proposed a plan to redistrict the area that will now allow for five district seats and two at-large seats, instead of six and one.

"(We've) set this plan into motion, so that in the future we are not re-inventing the wheel," North Putnam superintendent Dan Noel said. "It was a very time-consuming process, but that's what the law says, so that's what we're going to do."

The plan is to make it so that five members of the board will come from the five new redistricted precincts:

* Russell and Clinton

* Jackson and Franklin North

* Monroe East, Monroe West and Franklin South

* Floyd West and Floyd South

* Floyd East

The other two members of the board would be restricted members at-large. Everyone in the corporation votes, but the member must reside in a specified area.

One will be from the Jackson and Floyd townships and the other from the four western townships.

The redistricting process was set in motion because the previous precincts were divided by townships.

These townships had very different populations and were not in compliance with Indiana law.

The school board districts now have relatively equal populations, but a new potential problem has emerged.

Voters elected candidates to serve full four-year teams and that has now changed.

The board was expected to have completed the redistricting process well in advance of the election on Nov. 6 so potential candidates would be able to file correctly, and voters would know the terms of the election.

Now, those who, a few weeks ago, were elected to serve for four years have had their term cut to two years.

Four of the board's seven spots were up for election -- Russell, Franklin, Monroe townships, and the lone at-large seat.

The remaining three spots -- Floyd, Jackson and Clinton townships -- were (and are) up for vote in November 2014.

Incumbent board member Mark Hoke retained his at-large seat in the election. That at-large seat is the only one from the recent election that did not have a reduced term -- it will still run from Jan. 1, 2014-Dec. 31-2017, though it will now be the Restricted West at-large seat.

The other three spots were won by people who will be new to the board -- Darrell Wiatt in Russell, Jill Summerlot in Franklin and Jim Bowling in Monroe.

Despite being elected to four-year terms (meant to run from Jan. 1, 2013-Dec. 31, 2016) those seats will now be up for re-election in November 2014.

Additionally, because Russell and Clinton (and Monroe and Franklin South) will now share a seat, there could potentially be two sets incumbent board members running against one another for the same seat.

Term limits have also changed.

At the 2014 election, the Monroe (East and West)/Franklin South district and the Floyd West/Floyd South district will be a two-year term that runs from Jan. 1, 2015-Dec. 31, 2016.

The subsequent terms will last for four years (2017-2020, 2021-2024, etc.).

The lawsuit the board is facing has been answered, but there are still some questions about the new plan.

North Putnam will hold town meetings for the next four months to explain the process, and the new voting districts, to the corporation's voters.

Beginning on Dec. 3, and running until March 21, the Noel and board members will talk with voters and listen to suggestions or questions about the changes.

Redistricting wasn't the only thing discussed at Thursday's special meeting. Robin Smith was promoted to replace Debbie Carrico as the new food service director.

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