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No change coming

July 26, 2011

Voting districts in the Newton-Conover City Schools system will remain unchanged for the next 10 years.

As a result, about 50 homes — 112 citizens — will remain in the Conover district, while the population of the Newton voting district will remain slightly smaller than its counterpart in the school system.

Despite the slight size difference, the school system will be within population sizes outlined in the state election statues.

"The law requires us to examine the voting districts, but it does not require us to change them, if no change is needed," said NCCS Board Chair Scott Loudermelt. "If we took no action, we would still be well within the law."

During a called meeting Monday, the Newton-Conover City Schools Board of Education heard a proposal that would help equalize the size of the Newton and Conover voting districts. According to Western Piedmont Council of Governments data analyst Taylor Dellinger, the school system was required to examine the population sizes of the voting districts in the wake of Census 2010.

"Each voting district must be within 5 percent of the average district size," he said.

Census 2010 data reveals the Newton district includes 9.017 people, he said, while the Conover district has 9,232. The voting districts are not specific to Newton and Conover city limits, he said, but instead some Conover residents are within the Newton voting district and vice-versa. Attendance lines for elementary schools within the school district are also not affected by city limits or voting districts, he said.

"That difference is roughly 2.5-3 percent," he said, adding the population details relate to individuals, not registered voters of individuals over age 18. "One way to go is you can decide to leave it.

Looking at it, my feeling is that it is better to go ahead and make a small change not than to try to make a more significant change down the road when you may be looking at moving hundreds of households."

Dellinger proposed moving 112 people in about 50 households from the Conover voting district into the Newton voting district. Doing so would bring the population difference within less than a tenth of a percent, he said. Those numbers represent population, not the number of registered voters, he said.

"The 112 people is based on who is there at the time, in April 2010," he said of Census 2010 results.

None of the current school board members are included in the voting district change that was proposed, Dellinger said.

"We made triple sure none of the board members would be moved," he said.

Board member Kyle Drum moved to accept the recommendation, but it died for lack of a second.

The voting districts will next be reviewed following Census 2020, Dellinger said, adding that areas of the school system's service area most ripe for growth are in northern Conover. However, there is no way to predict that growth with any certainty, he said.

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