The Buffalo School Board is seeking the public’s input on legally required plans to reapportion the city school district in advance of next year’s board elections.
A sparsely attended community meeting held Monday in West Hertel Academy was the first of four such meetings where the public was invited to ask questions and engage members of an advisory committee appointed to redraw the school district map.
“The whole purpose of the forums is to, first and foremost, inform the public of the [redistricting] process; secondly, to educate the public about the process,” said board Vice President Ralph R. Hernandez, chairman of the advisory committee.
Every 10 years, after a federal census, the board is required to redraw its map. Currently, there are six districts that are mandated to be roughly equal in population. With an overall decreasing city population and shifting neighborhood populations, the map has to be redrawn every decade to maintain that balance.
The object of reapportionment is to give effect to the one person, one vote principle as outlined in the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Five representatives of the nine-member Redistricting Advisory Committee attended Monday’s forum, including Hernandez, former Common Council President James W. Pitts, Khalil Cottman, Janique Curry and Denise Hanlon. They outnumbered the citizens who attended the meeting
Elizabeth Johnson, who described herself as being “heavily into parent involvement,” lamented the low turnout. Johnson, who also is an alternate member on District Parent Coordinating Council, said parent facilitators in each of the school buildings can be useful in increasing the turnout for the next three forums.
“That’s why you have parent facilitators in your building. They work with parents. They could have pushed to have [notifications] sent home [with the students], because it is all up to the parents,” Johnson said.
Otherwise, information regarding the redistricting and the next public hearing dates can be found at www.buffaloschools.org.
The advisory committee will recommend a new map based, in part, on public input from the forums. The next three are set for 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Southside Elementary School, 430 Southside Parkway; 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Stanley M. Makowski Early Childhood Center, 1095 Jefferson Ave.; and 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 10, Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, 450 Masten Ave.
A redistricting resolution must be adopted by Dec. 12.