Boyertown School Board's election plan may see changes in format; redistricting

The Boyertown School Board’s election plan could soon see redistricting and a new format.

In an effort to equalize the regional election districts, the Boyertown School Board of Directors has approved two recommendations, made by the Ad Hoc Committee for School Board Election Plan Options, to bring back to the Berks County Court of Common Pleas.

The Ad Hoc Committee for School Board Election Plan was appointed a year ago to review the district’s voting model.

The first recommendation includes changes from the current reorganization plan in order to address population diversity among the three regions. The option includes the redistricting of voting district 1 of Douglass Township (Mont.) from Region 3 to Region 1.

Region 3 currently consists of residents living in Douglass (Mont.) , New Hanover and Upper Frederick townships. Region 1 includes the Bally, Bechtelsville, Colebrookdale Township, Earl Township, and Washington Township.

The board has authorized its solicitor, Fox Rothschild LLP, to prepare a petition with the Court of Common Pleas which is consistent with the Ad-Hoc Committee’s recommendation.

The second recommendation includes a change from the district’s current format of three regions with three representatives from each region. The new plan was decided upon based on an evaluation of the election plan formats considering input from the public and a consensus by the appointed committee.

The district has the option of choosing from one of three formats: at-large (district-wide), regional (district divided into regions), or a combination of the two. Each format requires the appointment nine board members.

The committee is recommending a combination plan of six regional board members and three at-large board members.

Each of the recommendations was approved 7-1 by the Board of Directors at their Sept. 10 meeting.

“Region 3 has increased to the point that we need more equalization,” said Board Member Ronald Christman, in favor of the changes.

Board member Joseph Nichols said, “It’s not ‘Berks County School District’ or ‘Montgomery County School District; we’re Boyertown area school district.”

Ruth Baker, of Earl Township and Boyertown class of ’78, has been attending township meetings in Regions 1 and 3 to request resolutions against the election plan changes.

“To run at large across whole district, you as a candidate have to spend 3 times as much,” said Baker at the New Hanover Board of Supervisors on Oct. 14. “You don’t have the opportunity to know your constituents; they could be anyone from anywhere in the district. The most populated and well-to-do would field the majority; the less populated and less well-to-do won’t have controlling say on what the board does. We’ve have a balance over the years. I don’t’ see that continuing if this goes through.”

Baker ended her comments by stating that representation of government is best when local.

Vice Chairman Supervisor Doug Muller stated that he is in full support. The Supervisors will be considering a resolution.

According to Baker, Colebrookedale Township, Bally, Douglass (Mont. and Berks) have drawn up resolutions in an effort to keep the election localized.

The recommendations have been submitted to the Berks County Court of Common Pleas so that the changes in the election plan can be completed prior to this year’s primary election.

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