Johnson County school districts’ representation on the Kansas State Board of Education will look different moving forward.
What happened: Along with newly redrawn Congressional and state legislative district boundaries, the lines for the 10 state board of education districts were also altered by Kansas lawmakers earlier this year.
- A recent Kansas Supreme Court decision approved the new maps, upholding the new state board of edu map, dubbed Apple 7, which lays out the state’s new Board of Education districts.
What’s different for JoCo: Under the revised map’s boundaries, parts of three board of education districts now cover Johnson County, compared to two under the previous map.
- Johnson County is now represented by Districts 2, 3 and 4, whereas before it was just Districts 2 and 3.
- District 2 now represents portions of KCK, Fairway, Lake Quivira, Merriam, Mission, Leawood, Overland Park, Prairie Village, Roeland Park and Westwood, and, within Johnson County, appears to cover parts of the Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley districts.
- District 3 now represents Edgerton, Gardner, Leawood, Lenexa, Olathe, Overland Park and Spring Hill, and within Johnson County, appears to covers parts of the Blue Valley, Olathe, Gardner-Edgerton and Spring Hill districts.
- District 4 now represents Johnson County students from Bonner Springs, De Soto, Lake Quivira, Lenexa, Merriam, Olathe, Overland Park and Shawnee and, within Johnson County, appears to cover USD 232 in De Soto and a portion of the SMSD and Olathe districts, as well.
Who represents the county: Board of Education members for Johnson County school districts previously were represented by board representatives Melanie Haas of District 2 and Michelle Dombrosky of District 3, who will continue in those districts for now, though Dombrosky is up for reelection in 2022.
- Under the new map, state board of ed member Ann E. Mah of District 4 now represents a large chunk of the northwest part of Johnson County.
- Previously, Mah’s district covered school districts in 12 counties mostly west of Johnson County in an area that included Topeka and Lawrence.
- The new map puts roughly half of Mah’s constituents in Johnson County.
In their own words: Haas, who now represents a significant part of Kansas City, Kansas, along with northeast Johnson County, said the new makeup of the districts and their representation feels like something that could be frustrating to voters.
- “I’m excited to be serving KCK,” she said. “But I think that it’s a big injustice that they’re not going to have their own representation as they did with the previous maps.”
- In a statement prior to the new maps winning final approval, Dombrosky said the redrawn map would create more balance in who she represents: “I was elected to represent approximately 55,000 students in District #3. It appears from the maps that I would adopt a more equal balance between a rural area and a more populated area.”
- In a statement, Mah said she is looking forward to meeting her new constituents and that her priorities as a board member will likely not change
- But while Johnson County will be well-represented under the new map, she said, three board members is disproportionate to the county’s population: “It is unlikely we will have any new board members of color, and that is a shame. But I am hopeful we can find good candidates who will fight for better public schools.”