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DD2 UNWRAPPED: Single-Member School Districts - What's That?



Dorchester County, S.C. - School Board elections can be both contentious and often overlooked, but all agree that good decision-making is critical to having a successful K12 system supported by the community.


The phrase single-member district means that the school district is divided up into smaller areas, with each area electing its own board member who serves on the district-wide Board. An At-large district means that every board member is elected by the entire school district. A "single-member plus" district means that one or two at-large seats are layered on top of a single-member district where the single members form the majority.


The Akron Public Schools is a good example of an at-large district where for years board members all lived in the same affluent and White-majority Firestone High School area. It's also not just about the District graduation rates either contrary to Mr. Farnsworth's recent assertion. Akron minority schools received less attention, resources and staffing. What are the DD2 graduation, reading and math rates among the minority and socially and economically disadvantaged status (SES) sub-groups and among the geographic areas of DD2? Dr. Robbins noted on June 22, 2022, that DD2 was no longer academically in the top ten districts state-wide.


At-large districts, IMHO, disenfranchise minorities and SES groups from mounting successful district-wide campaigns and having a say in decision-making. There's a reason why by 1842, most U.S. House Districts became single-member represented districts. The elected official is closer to the people represented than at-large officials. This is a better form of representative democracy, IMHO.


The idea that single-member districts will lead to segregation, as recently noted by Board Member Powell, is as preposterous as it is illogical. In fact, the opposite is likely as minorities and SES subgroups gain a greater voice in School Board decision-making.


In a recent post on #dd2unwrapped, data on the top 11 school SC districts was provided that showed some form of single-member district out-numbering at-large districts by a margin of 4-1.


Time has come for single-member district representation to DD2.

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