School districts upset Knightdale

Staff WritersMay 12, 2011 

Knightdale leaders are fighting a proposal that would split the eastern Wake County town among three school board election districts.

Under the plan, Knightdale voters would no longer be only in District 1, which covers Wake Forest and eastern Wake. Instead, some would be in District 4, which largely consists of Southeast Raleigh. Others would go to District 2, which includes Garner and Fuquay-Varina.

Knightdale Mayor Russell Killen says it goes against the board's goal of trying to avoid putting municipalities in different districts. "I'm very worried that Knightdale's voice will be lost," Killen said Wednesday.

School board member Chris Malone, who represents Knightdale, said he'll continue to look at whether changes can be made. But he said he didn't see any other way than to reduce his overly large election district.

"There just wasn't any other place to take people," Malone said.

The school board could adopt the new districts as early as Tuesday.

Every 10 years, the school board uses census data to redraw boundaries for the nine board seats. Candidates can be voted on only by the people who live in their district.

The school board hired lawyer Kieran Shanahan to draw the new boundaries. Among the guidelines he was given: Balance the populations in the districts and respect the boundaries of municipalities.

Because of their size, Raleigh and Cary have been split among more than one school board district. But the board has historically tried to keep the smaller municipalities within one district.

The new maps by Shanahan place more municipalities such as Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs and Morrisville into two or more districts. But Knightdale leaders question why the town of 11,401 residents was split into three.

Shanahan did not immediately return calls Wednesday.

Killen, the Knightdale Chamber of Commerce and the education advocacy group the Knightdale 100 have been lobbying school board members to change the redistricting proposal. They're concerned that, being only a small part of the three districts, Knightdale will be overlooked. They also say the needs of schools in Southeast Raleigh and Garner are different than those in Knightdale.

Malone said the town could benefit from having three board members lobbying for its interests. "The commitment to Knightdale will not wane," Malone said.

News researcher Brooke Cain contributed to this report.

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