New ward lines under consideration by Lone Grove school board

LONE GROVE – Board of education members are now considering the first changes to seat boundaries in over a decade as the community and school district see steady growth. The Lone Grove Board of Education must approve small changes to ward lines between the five districts by November based on updated population information from the 2020 U.S. Census.

Superintendent Meri Jayne Miller submitted her proposal for updated ward boundaries to board members on Monday. She said the district was notified by the Oklahoma State Department of Education this summer that the Lone Grove school system was eligible for updated boundaries between district seats.

“We are one of the districts that qualified due to our population growth from 2011. We have definitely grown in our little community,” Miller said after Monday’s regular board meeting.

Superintendent Meri Jayne Miller is seated at a desk with a notebook computer in front of her during a school board meeting. She is holding papers in her hand while looking to her left at school board members.
Lone Grove Public Schools Superintendent Meri Jayne Miller speaks with school board members Monday, Oct. 11, 2022. (M. Dean Smith/Carter Observer)

Miller told board members that she started the process of redrawing the wards in August and secured help from legal counsel and a state GIS coordinator in Oklahoma City. Together the group worked to reorient the roughly 120-square-mile school district’s five seats to more equally represent the town’s growing population.

Board president Darryl Howard said the redistricting also has the benefit of keeping each ward populated enough to field candidates for open board seats.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure that each ward, each zone, has sufficient population to make it easy to fill board positions,” Howard told fellow board members.

Oklahoma law requires ward populations to remain within 10% of each other. There is a nearly 27% difference in population size between Lone Grove Public Schools Ward 1 and Ward 4, a difference of more than 400 people, according to documents from the school district.

Miller’s proposal creates a roughly 6% variation between each ward with the largest gap between wards being only 88 people, which would put the district within state thresholds.

The Lone Grove Public Schools district stretches from the northern border of Carter County southward into a small portion of Love County. While board members will be considering boundaries for individual wards, the entire school district will not grow or shrink. No neighboring school districts will be affected by the Lone Grove redistricting.

Howard on Monday made a motion to table the redistricting until the board’s Nov. 14 meeting, at the recommendation of legal counsel. Miller said the district will have to submit the approved maps to the county clerk by the middle of November.

With the months-long process of redistricting nearly over, Miller said the tools made available by the state made the process much easier than expected and praised efforts from her GIS coordinator.

“It’s kind of a fascinating process,” Miller said.