OAG 93-6

February 1, 1993

Hon. Timothy Crawford

105 North Main Street

London, Kentucky 40741

Dear Mr. Crawford:

As attorney for the Whitley County Board of Education, you have written our office with several questions regarding redrawing school district lines after an annexation. Corbin Independent School District annexed a thousand acres of property in Whitley County. You explain that this large annexation upset the population equation between the five Whitley County Board of Education school districts.

KRS 160.210 governs the drawing of division boundary lines by the local school boards. This statute states in part:

160.210. Election of board members--Change in boundary lines of divisions--Boards in counties containing city of first class.--

(1)(a) In independent school districts, the members of the school board shall be elected from the district at large. In county school districts, members shall be elected from divisions.

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(2) The board of education of each county school district shall, not later than July 1, 1940, divide its district into five (5) divisions containing integral voting precincts and as equal in population insofar as is practicable. In first dividing the county district into divisions the board shall, if more than one (1) of its members reside in (1) division, determine by lot which member from that division shall represent that division, and which members shall represent the divisions in which no member resides. The members so determined to represent divisions in which no member resides shall be considered the members from those divisions until their terms expire, and thereafter the members from those divisions shall be nominated and elected as provided in KRS 160.200 and 160.220 and 160.250.

(3) Any changes made in division boundary lines shall be to make divisions as equal in population and containing integral voting precincts insofar as is practical. No change may be made in division boundary lines less than five (5) years after the last change in any division lines, except in case of merger of districts or a change in territory due to annexation.

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We shall address your questions in the order presented:

1. Does the Board now have to change the division boundaries in Whitley County pursuant to KRS 160.210?

Yes. KRS 160.210(3) envisions that subsequent to a merger or annexation the school board shall redraw the division boundary lines to ensure that the divisions are as equal in population and containing integral voting precincts insofar as is practicable. The Board must redraw the divisions since the boundary lines of the Whitley County Board of Education decreased by one thousand acres of property and caused unequal division of population in the school district. This is consistent with Burkhart v. Blanton, Ky., 635 S.W.2d 328, 329 (1982), wherein the court stated that the school board conducted its redistricting as "required upon merger by KRS 160.210(3)." (Emphasis added).

2. If the answer is yes, by and during, when does this have to be done in 1992?

KRS 160.210(3) does not set a specific time frame that a school board must follow when drawing the redistricting lines. We believe that the school board should vote on a redistricting plan as expeditiously as possible. The restriction in KRS 160.210(4)(d) forbidding redrawing division lines after August 1 in a board election year would not apply in a redistricting resulting from an annexation or merger. The August 1 redistricting deadline would only apply when residents file a petition to redistrict with the State Board for Elementary and Secondary Education pursuant to KRS 160.210(4).

3. If necessary to equate population, pursuant to KRS 160.210, within the five (5) divisions, can school board division lines be drawn through existing county voting precincts?

Yes. KRS 160.210(3) provides that in the event of an annexation or merger the school board shall redraw the division lines to make divisions "as equal in population and containing integral voting precincts insofar as is practical". This statute specifically envisions that there may be rare instances where it is impracticable to maintain voting precincts. We must emphasize that KRS 160.210 clearly contemplates that the lines will follow existing voting precincts. Splitting an existing voting precinct for school board races creates difficult problems for the county clerks who are in charge of supplying voting lists and machines for elections. Thus, splitting a precinct is a last resort to be used only when equalization cannot be obtained in any other way.

We recommend that the school board maintain copies of the population figures and maps utilized in redrawing the boundary lines so that they may document the redistricting plan. This documentation would be especially significant in situations where a voting precinct was divided.

4. Does the rest of KRS 160.210(6) after the first full sentence apply to all counties?

No. KRS 160.210(6) provides for redistricting of school division lines in counties containing cities of the first class. This subsection states:

(6) In counties containing cities of the first class, responsibility for the establishment or the changing of school board division boundaries shall be with the local board of education, subject to the review and approval of the county board of elections. Where division and census tract boundaries do not coincide with existing election precinct boundaries, school board divisions shall be redrawn to comply with precinct boundaries. In no instance shall precinct boundaries be redrawn nor shall a precinct be divided to accommodate the drawing of school board division lines. Precinct boundaries nearest existing school board division boundaries shall become the new division boundary. All changes under this statute shall be completed on or before January 1, 1979, and on or before January 1 in any succeeding year in which a member of the school board is to be elected from any division. A record of all changes in division lines shall be kept in the offices of the county board of education and the county board of elections. The board of education shall publish all changes pursuant to KRS Chapter 424. A copy of the newspaper in which the notice is published shall be filed with the chief state school officer within ten (10) days following its publication.

We believe that KRS 160.210(6) applies only to counties containing cities of the first class since this subsection may conflict with the redistricting requirements that apply to other counties. For example, KRS 160.210(6) specifically forbids counties containing cities of the first class from establishing school division boundary lines that conflict with existing voting precinct lines. However, as discussed in question 3 above, all other school districts are not required to maintain existing voting precinct lines. Thus, KRS 160.210(6) would not apply to the Whitley County Board of Education.

Sincerely yours,

Chris Gorman

Attorney General

Lynne Schroering

Assistant Attorney General