NAACP presents redistricting plan to School Board
The NAACP provided a redistricting plan to the Lee County School Board Tuesday afternoon that the group believes will allow citizens the chance to elect a representative of their choice to ensure equal opportunities for everyone.
Frederick Dunbar Morgan II, a member of the education committee and advisor for youth council for NAACP, said the redistricting plan allows an opportunity to improve representation of students and parents.
“December 2015 is the deadline to draw new district maps in time for the 2016 elections,” he said. “The goal for the NAACP is to allow citizens of our communities to elect representatives of choice to serve on our school board and respond to their needs ensuring equal educational opportunities for everyone.”
George Eppsteiner, Southern Coalition for School Justice staff attorney, said the nonprofit organization, based out of Durham, North Carolina, helps empower disadvantaged communities with the opportunity to exercise their voting rights particularly in the south.
He said in November 2016, two School Board seats are up for election district two and district three.
“For the districts to be created for the election in November 2016, this board must adopt a redistricting plan before the end of the calendar year,” Eppsteiner said. “The Lee County school population is more than 50 percent minority and because the School Board has never had a minority school board candidate, it would make sense that the School Board be reflective of the diverse population of what we have in Lee County.”
Eppsteiner told the School Board that when drawing particular districts, one district cannot be more populated than another because every vote has to be substantially equal to another in who they elect. He said the plan should also keep communities of interest intact, as well as be reflective of those particular students that live in that area.
Morgan said there will be no incumbent running against one another in the proposed plan.
“The central changes to the NAACP proposed map are district one, two and three because they are the east/west shape and they stay essentially intact,” he said. “The structure and shaping is pretty consistent. Four has this east to west shape that is consistent with all the other districts and it keeps those communities interest in the northern Lee County and northern Fort Myers areas intact. District five contains a vast area north to south . . . now it contains greater Fort Myers and Lehigh Acres to combine communities of interest.”
Morgan said the hope is to bring a better candidate pool with their redistricting plan.
“In our county’s history, we felt it was very important to have single member districts,” he said. “Candidates can be better held accountable for representing their districts and meeting the needs of the students and parents in that district. It will allow School Board members a chance to get to know school personnel, parents and students within their districts.”
Eppsteiner requested an additional presentation so they could have more than 15-minutes to share information with the School Board.
“We renew our request today,” he said.