ELKINS -- The School Board on Tuesday unanimously approved establishing five zones by which each board member will be elected.
"That'll be new for our district," said Superintendent Jeremy Mangrum.
Board members have served in at-large positions, he said.
The change is due to an increase in the district's minority population as detailed in the 2020 census, Mangrum said.
A provision of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 requires districts with a minority population greater than 10% to be zoned, he said. The district's minority population nearly doubled in the past decade, growing from about 9% of the total in 2010 to almost 18% in 2020, Mangrum said.
Of the district's 5,631 population, 354 are Hispanic, 31 Black, 95 Native American, 23 Asian, eight Pacific Islander, 27 another race or ethnicity, and 468 two or more races, according to the School District Minority Population Report from the state Geographic Information Systems.
Establishing school zones may mean a whole new board could be elected in May, he said, explaining incumbents may run for board seats in the zones in which they live. Board members must live in the zones they seek to represent.
The Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission established the zones for the School District at no cost to the district, Mangrum said.
In other news, the board unanimously voted to apply for funding through the state's Academic Facilities Partnership Program to help fund a 17,000-square-foot addition to the district's middle school, Mangrum said.
The academic space expansion is estimated to cost $3.5 million. In the best-case scenario, the partnership program would pick up 65% of the cost and the district would pay for the rest, Mangrum said.
The board also unanimously approved work on the lights and backstops for the baseball and softball fields located between the district's middle and high schools, Mangrum said.