No changes planned for state board of education districts, despite redistricting changes

By: - July 12, 2022 3:50 am

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Gov. Mike DeWine has no plans to change the state Board of Education district lines, despite several changes to the state’s redistricting landscape since the board districts were assigned.

Last January, DeWine assigned districts to the members of the board after legislative redistricting maps had been approved by the Ohio Redistricting Commission. He was given the job after the Ohio General Assembly didn’t create the districts themselves.

The deadline for those assignments was Jan. 31 in the same year as redistricting was set to happen, according to state law.

Each board district is required to be made up of three contiguous state Senate districts. DeWine — who convened and has served as a member of the redistricting commission since last September — used the state Senate map that was adopted by the ORC on Jan. 22. That map has since been revised four times after rejections from the Ohio Supreme Court, and the map now in place was adopted in February, after the board district deadline had passed.

“It is fair to state Ohio’s statutes for these districts never contemplated legislative maps nor districts not being finalized by the end of January,” DeWine’s press secretary, Dan Tierney, told the OCJ on Monday.

As for what happens now that the maps have changed, according to the governor’s office: nothing.

“There is no apparent authority in statute for the Governor to designate State Board of Education districts for this round of apportionment after Jan. 31, 2022,” Tierney said.

A coalition of education organizations in the state, Honesty for Ohio Education, has asked the governor to release new districts that “are fair, representational and comport with state law.”

“These districts must allow Ohioans to elect leaders who represent the students, families and educators of the districts they serve,” a press release from the coalition stated.

The group says the current map of districts violates the tenets of state law that dictate the districts: comprising of three contiguous state senate districts, be “as compact as practicable,” and consist of districts “centered in urban areas and rural areas, where practicable.”

Members of the board of education complained about the layout of districts when they were assigned in January.

Eleven of the 19 members of the board are elected, with the others appointed by the governor. Five seats are up in the November general election, and candidates have to file for the seat by August 10.

The president of the Ohio Education Association also called out the changes to the districts back in January, saying the governor “signaled an intent in terms of who they seem to be trying to protect on the board.”

Any changes to the statute are under the authority of the state legislature, according to Tierney.

Follow OCJ Reporter Susan Tebben on Twitter.

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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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