The Enumclaw School Board will review slight changes in its director district boundaries, host a public hearing at its July 25 meeting and vote on the proposal at its Aug. 15 meeting.
The timeline was set at the board’s June 20 meeting, but at that time the board had also directed Superintendent Mike Nelson to explore the possibility of creating different director boundaries, with an emphasis on splitting the core of Black Diamond.
The request came after Tim Nickson, the district director who represents Black Diamond, expressed concern the potential for growth in the city where he lives would be too much for one director to handle.
“We all represent Enumclaw and Black Diamond no matter where we live,” Board President Chris VanHoof reminded members, but also admitted board members could do a better job of crossing the Green River and spending time in Black Diamond.
The topic was broached during discussion regarding slight changes in the district’s directorship boundaries, a process that occurs hand-in-hand every 10 years with the U.S. census.
Sammamish Data Systems worked with census numbers to set up maps to even the population base for each directorship. The plan is to keep each of the five areas with a population of approximately 5,000. Slight adjustments are proposed to more evenly distribute the areas between Corey Cassell’s District 3 and Nickson’s District 4.
“Redistricting law has been clear on what we can and cannot use for parameters for redrawing when it comes to future growth,” responded Sammamish Data Systems. “We cannot take that into consideration when it comes to the population used for setting of the boundaries.
“Even if population of Black Diamond explodes, the counts used to redraw the limits still has to be the census data from the most recent census. One could argue, at that point in time, once the population is there, that the deviations of each district be pushed to a greater amount in the districts to move the first out of Enumclaw and bring it in to Black Diamond but this would be years down the road and if the need for more representation develops.”
Nickson covers the area west of state Route 169 to Black Diamond and the Westwood Elementary area. Cassell covers Southeast 416th Street from the cemetery down 236th Avenue Southeast and the north part of the city of Enumclaw.
Nelson noted the boundaries are established based on the current population, not on projected growth. Black Diamond has two proposed Master Plan Developments on the books expected to bring 6,000 homes to the area, but there has been no movement to begin building; with the current economy, no one can pinpoint the exact time that growth would occur.
Enumclaw has projected growth in its city limits as well.
“I don’t want to spend a lot of time on it until growth happens,” VanHoof said.
Nickson’s proposal to split the two areas along SR 169 would not create an additional seat on the board or ensure voters would select a candidate who lives in Black Diamond for either of the two seats that would then represent that area. Drastic changes in the boundaries could also leave out current directors.
The board recently lost Tamarah Hancock when it was discovered her residence sits just outside the boundary for her directorship. April Schroeder has been appointed to now serve District 2, which covers a small area in Enumclaw bordered by Griffin and Roosevelt avenues and Semanski and Porter streets, plus the area east of state Route 410 to Mud Mountain.
Hancock’s residence location placed her in Nancy Merrill’s District 1, which covers the Veazie area between state Routes 169 and 410 all the way to Selleck and Crystal Mountain.
VanHoof covers the section of Enumclaw that includes the neighborhoods near Sunrise and Southwood elementaries, the Enumclaw middle and high school and the Osceloa area.