The board agreed Thursday night that the Cherokee County School District staff should plan the meetings using the same model as for school redistricting.
Every year, the district holds "boundary focus group" meetings for schools to be affected in the next school year by redistricting either because of the opening of a new school or population growth.
The process, school board member Mike Chapman said in making the suggestion, has been a successful one for the past decade and could make the process easier for the county's state legislative delegation.
"This could cut their workload," Chapman said, referring to the delegation's task this summer of deciding how districts should be redrawn for elected offices in the county. The process is triggered every 10 years by the receipt of new Census data and serves to even out voting districts impacted by population changes so that people are fairly represented.
School board members run countywide for election in partisan races to one of seven posts based on where they live. The board then elects its own new chairman each year to lead the meetings. Board members serve for four-year terms.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo said he supports the meetings idea, noting it would be good for the board to be prepared to offer opinions. The delegation, he said, asked the board for such input 10 years ago during the last Census-prompted redistricting process.
Petruzielo was quick to say the meetings wouldn't "counteract" the delegation's authority in the process - they only would provide additional information.
"I can't see how it would be inappropriate for the board to look at the numbers and residency issues and weigh in on this," Petruzielo said.
He said Russ Sims, the school district's assistant superintendent for support services and facilities/construction management, could facilitate the meetings, as he does for school boundary redrawings.
Sims also is the district's longtime demographer and for years has compiled and shared detailed population and residency information with other governments and agencies within the county.
In addition to Chapman, board members Kim Cochran, Janet Read and Rob Usher chimed in with support for holding the meetings, and no board members spoke in opposition to the idea.
School board members interested in continued service have incentives to share their opinions on redistricting, as the process can lead to difficult future elections.
Some legislators across the state have been accused of using redistricting to draw lines to the advantage of their allies and disadvantage of their enemies.
"Decisions like this ought not to be made in a vacuum or for pure political purpose or to reward or punish," Petruzielo said of the advantages to the board members gauging public desire through the meetings before making any suggestions.
Chapman said his goal is to see the county divided "evenly" into posts that ideally each only include one Innovation Zone: a high school and its feeder middle and high schools.
"Let's let the public look at what lines we may or may not be able to draw," he said.