Based upon the agreement of the parties involved, a federal judge will allow the Hope Public School District to use a new seven-member districting plan for the election of school board members.
U.S. District Judge Susan O. Hickey, of Texarkana, issued a consent order May 3 which stems from the agreement between the Hope district and Little Rock attorney John Walker, as they relate to a 1989 federal court order which established the current eight-member school board system used by the district.
“The Court approves Hope School District's action in changing its governance to a seven member board of education elected from single member districts with the specific election zones identified as Option 4 in defendants' motion for approval,” Hickey wrote.
She said terms of service for board members will not exceed three years in each term, except for members elected in September, 2013, who will draw for terms of one, two or three years.
“The Court shall continue to exercise jurisdiction over this matter until it finds that HSD should be released from Court supervision,” Hickey wrote.
That provision of the order was also agreed upon by the parties in their joint motion of May 2 under which they asked Hickey to approve the change.
The change in board zones was fostered by redistricting required after each U.S. Census.
With a total population of 15,849 residents, and a 48 percent minority population, the Hope district breaks down to an average population of 2,264 residents each across seven school board zone; that is the ideal number per district.
The redistricting plan which the Hope board adopted has a deviation margin from ideal between -2.39 percent and +4.54 percent, where the requirement in state law is no more than 10 percent in either direction, according to School Board President Joe Short, an attorney.
The Option 4 plan adopted by the board in 2012, and agreed upon by the district and Walker, varies from ideal by -8.74 percent to +5.23 percent, within the 10 percent variation allowed by law.
Under the plan adopted by the board, Districts 1, 3, and 7 have majority ethnic populations, with District 1 at 2,278 total population, 47.28 percent black and 82 percent ethnic minority population, with a voting population that is 50.76 percent black and 78 percent ethnic minority population.
District 3 has a total population of 2,256 residents, with 48.76 percent black and 74 percent ethnic minority population, and a voting population that is 48.77 percent black and 71 percent ethnic minority population.
District 7 has a total population of 2,367 resident, with 46.39 percent black and 55 percent ethnic minority population, and a voting population that is 42.87 percent black and 51 percent ethnic minority population.
Board member Viney Johnson currently represents District 1; but, board member Janice Milus will live in the same district, under the plan. Johnson voted against the plan, but Milus did not.