New city school board election boundaries approved
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The Pittsburgh School Reapportionment Commission has adopted a final plan for the nine election districts for the city school board.
The plan, which was approved unanimously Thursday night, maintains three districts in which most of the residents are black: Districts 1, 3 and 8, which are currently represented by Sharene Shealey of North Point Breeze, Thomas Sumpter of Schenley Heights and Mark Brentley Sr. of the North Side, respectively.
The final plan keeps the Highland Park neighborhood -- now represented by Regina Holley of Highland Park in District 2 -- basically intact. Ms. Holley attended the meeting and argued against a proposal to move part of Highland Park into District 1.
While co-chairman Wayne Gerhold, a Squirrel Hill attorney, maintained Highland Park should be kept together, co-chairman Shawn Carter, chief of staff for city Councilman Ricky Burgess, at one point pushed to have one voting precinct from Highland Park moved from District 2 to District 1 as well as one voting precinct in Point Breeze to be moved from District 1 to District 4, which is represented by Bill Isler.
Mr. Carter was concerned about the variance in population between districts but in the end agreed with other members to move just the Point Breeze voting district.
That left the variance in population between the largest and smallest districts at 13.2 percent, but it also increased the size of the black majority in District 2 and kept more neighborhoods together.
The seven-member commission was required to consider four standards: keeping districts "as nearly equal in population as practicable," keeping districts "as compact and contiguous as possible," creating boundaries that "best provide for racial balance on the board of school directors" and "making every effort to maintain neighborhood boundary lines of communities of like interest whenever practicable."
There were some other changes over the map presented last week as well. Some portions of Brookline were moved from District 7, which is represented by Jean Fink of Carrick, to District 6, which is represented by Sherry Hazuda of Beechview.
Bon Air, which in a previous proposal moved from District 7 to District 6, now moves back to District 7.
Ridgemont, which was in District 6, is moved to District 9, which is represented by Floyd "Skip" McCrea of the North Side.
The new boundaries will be used in next year's election for the odd-numbered seats. Pittsburgh Public Schools encompasses both the city and Mount Oliver.
No other agency must approve the plan, although it could be subject to a court challenge.
The reapportionment is the result of the 2010 Census in which the total population of the city dropped to 309,107 from 337,380 in 2000, a decline of 28,273.
Members of the commission were appointed by the Pittsburgh mayor, city council and the Mount Oliver mayor.
In addition to the co-chairs, other members are Mark Masterson, executive director of the Northside Community Development Fund; Carey Harris, executive director of A+ Schools; Paul McKrell, government affairs manager in Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's office; Sherry Brooks, who ran against Ms. Shealey for school board; and attorney George R. Farneth II of Mount Oliver.
First Published November 2, 2012 12:01 am