Superintendent Dr. Sue Thomas invited the public to a hearing on Monday to voice their opinions on the redrawing of the two subdistrict boundaries.
“A lot of people may not know where the boundary is,” Thomas said. Officials at the meeting will not only explain the boundary lines but also look at moving these lines based upon changes in demographics.
The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the BISD administration board room, 201 N. St. Mary’s St. (just north of the post office). Of note is that this is not a board meeting and trustees will not be present.
Thomas said that a demographer will be at the hearing showing the makeup and population of each of the districts.
“The information that will be presented is based on the 2010 census,” Thomas said.
The change, Thomas said, is coming about because of federal law designed to ensure that everyone is represented fairly – what is referred to as the one-man, one vote principal.
The district’s Redistricting Advisory Committee will assist the board with the redistricting process.
The committee will meet with the district’s demographer and attorney, who will explain the redistricting process, answer questions and present a general draft redistricting plan as a beginning point for discussion.
The general draft plan will take into consideration and, where possible, will meet the redistricting guidelines; however, the draft plan is simply a place to begin discussion and is not being presented as the only possible plan.
The committee meeting will be a public meeting and public input is invited.
The committee members also will serve as a community contact for information regarding the redistricting process.
The district intends for this process to be open and interactive within the school community.
The committee is requested to consider the options for redrawing the boundaries of the district’s current multi-member trustee election districts and to make a written recommendation to the board regarding what option would best serve the district while still complying with the redistricting guidelines.
This may be accomplished over the course of one or more committee meetings.
Currently the school district trustees are elected from two subdistricts plus one by the entire school district’s population known as the at-large trustee.
This system came about because of a lawsuit in ’80s.
In 1982, the Mexican-American Legal Defence and Education Fund brought a lawsuit against the school district on behalf of five county residents. The lawsuit alleged that the then at-large system of conducting the school board elections discriminated against Hispanic school board candidates.
The court ultimately ruled that the district be divided into the subdistricts allowing the one at-large candidate.
Thomas said that the district wants to ensure that it not only complies with the federal law but also the regulations stemming from this lawsuit.
“If we don’t do this, we open ourselves up to another lawsuit,” she said. “We want to make sure everything is above board.”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.