By BEN MITCHELL
For all the controversy that led up to the redrawing of the Lyle School District director boundaries, last Thursday's public hearing on the matter went fairly smoothly.
"There was about eight people there and it only took about ten minutes," Lyle Superintendent Glenys Hill said.
At a special meeting of the Lyle School District's Board of Education -- which came a half-hour before the board's 7 p.m. regular meeting -- the board presented the new director districts that were drawn up by Redmond mapping data company, Sammamish Data Systems.
The drawing of the new districts is one of the last steps in the Lyle redistricting process that began late last spring. During a May 17 meeting of the Lyle Board of Education, Vern Harpole, a semi-retired physician who has lived in Lyle for several years, asked that the board redraw its director districts -- eschewing the five geographic director districts for three geographic districts and two at-large director positions.
Harpole advocated redistricting because he felt the current boundaries were obsolete and wanted the option of at-large positions. School districts are required to review their director district boundaries after each U.S. census to account for population changes and while Lyle did its review every ten years as required, no changes had been made since 1993. After hearing Harpole speak, Director Tria Bullard made the motion to pursue redistricting, but it died due to the lack of a second.
Harpole then started a petition that advocated putting the question of redistricting up for a ballot. The required signatures were quickly obtained from voters Harpole said were fed up with the current school board's inaction. The question made it to the General Election ballot, where voters overwhelmingly approved it, with 65.5 percent in support of redistricting. The boundaries were redrawn soon after and were first revealed to the public at a December board meeting.
The new boundaries split the entire school district into three geographic director districts instead of five. The old District 1 and District 2 have been combined to form the new District 1, which starts at the western edge of the school district and terminates at the Klickitat River. At this point, District 2 begins and runs to the northwestern section of Dallesport, north across SR 14, and then northeasterly along a 115-kilovolt Bonneville Power Authority power line that goes to Goldendale. District 3 then runs from these boundaries to the eastern edge of the school district.
Hill said Harpole was at the meeting and was generally pleased with the boundaries. Harpole could not be reached for comment on this story.
With the public hearing completed, Hill said the new director districts will likely be adopted during the board's next regular meeting on Thursday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. If the new districts are approved, the first two at-large positions will be up for grabs in the 2013 General Election in November due to the expiration of Tom Jellum's (Position 2) and Kathy Ginnett's (Position 4) terms.