Concern, allegations mark school board meeting

Dougherty County School Board meets to continue discussing redistricting plans. / Mike Manzoni

In a meeting that was marked by concern and allegations of secret meetings, the Dougherty County School Board met this afternoon to continue discussing redistricting plans.

Many of the board's members are concerned the proposed reapportionment lines unfairly divide the county's six districts.

"My concern is to make sure that it is done fairly, and I would like the time to study the map, and give an opinion," said Anita Brown, an at-large school board member.

Linda Meggers, the former director of the General Assembly's reapportionment office, who was hired to draw the new district lines, said she has tried to draw the new lines as fairly as possible. "I was going to take the plan, equalize the population and meet the Voting Rights Act," said Meggers. She said she employed a "minimum change plan," in which she sought to redraw the county's lines without making any significant changes to districts.

During the board's discussion, Brown insinuated that there were secret meetings happening around the city in which people were working together to favor certain districts. "I have received a lot of calls from persons in the community that there were secret meetings, and people were getting together to build up a certain district," said Brown. She would not give any further details about the meetings. Also, she could not confirm if they ever happened.

The board's disagreements and division has frustrated the board's chairman, James Bush, who said reapportionment cannot satisfy everyone. "I really wish that the Dougherty County School Board members will take a page from that committee and work harmoniously and don't get angry when someone disagrees with the other one," he said. "When you have reapportionment, you can't make everyone happy. I'm not happy."

The redistricting maps will be posted art all public libraries in Dougherty County, and will be posted on the county's website,