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Bibb Co. School Board becomes potential target for reconstruction in 2015

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State Rep. Allen Peake and Bibb County School Board member Tom Hudson were asked on local television about their stance of reducing the number of members on the Bibb County School Board.

Peake, a Republican, who who was the driving force in pushing HB-1171--the consolidation referendum -- and successfully reconstructing Macon-Bibb government is now strongly considering pushing legislation which would shrink the board size to five members.

Currently, the Bibb County School Board has eight members so the likelihood of ties is a strong possibility. Hudson had told WMAZ-TV Close-Up host Randall Savage on the July 12 weekly public affairs braodcast that he would prefer the size of the board be an odd number, but didn't specify a number.

Peake has been very specific and the same logic of reducing the number of members of a governmental entity in a majority-minority city and county such as Macon-Bibb resembles what happened in regard to the newly formed nine-member Bibb County Commission.

The city of Macon had a fifteen-member majority-black City Council and in 2008, the Board of Commissioners became majority-black for the first time in its history on the same day Barack Obama became President of the United States and became the country's first black president.

As of 2014, Macon City Council was dissolved and the electoral impact of African-Americans have been reduced in city-county government and now it appears re-constructing the Bibb County School Board is next when the General Assembly convenes in January 2015.

Hudson told Randall Savage on WMAZ-TV there had been no discussions about changing the size of the school board with Peake personally, but the Macon Republican has received feedback from some of the more conservative members of the Bibb County School Board.

In December 2010, Peake had told the Macon Telegraph that he wanted to introduce legislation in 2011 which would reduce the number of Bibb County Board of Education members from eight to five.

Former School Board President Gary Bechtel who is now a Bibb County Commissioner representing North Macon-Bibb was the one who made the suggestion to Peake.

“This came from me, not as board president, but as a member of the board,” Bechtel said. “I’m not speaking for the rest of the board.”

Coincidence or not, Betchel and Peake's interest in drastically reducing the number of school board members came less than a month after Romain Dallemand was selected to be Bibb County's Superintendent in November 2010.

In 2010, Peake told the Telegraph that shrinking to five members would mean the school board would have the same number of members as the Bibb County Commission and the Macon Water Authority board -- four districts with one at-large member.

With consolidation a done deal and the governor's race on the horizon, the chances of restructuring or reconstructing the Bibb County School Board may become a frontburner issue in 2015.

Hudson had expressed concern if there is a reduction in the number of school board members then redstricting would have to take place.

However, will the redisticting process be fair or would it resemble what happened in regard to consolidation?

If Republicans retain control of the local delegation and Governor Nathan Deal wins re-election in November 2014, then Peake's plans to reduce the number of school board members becomes a strong likelihood.

However, if Democrat Jason Carter somehow wins, then it may put the brakes or a complete halt to the local Republican's plans to reconstruct the Bibb County School Board and reduce the electoral impact of African-Americans--again.

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