School board still parsing remap options

By: LEE HUDSON

St. Mary Parish School Board members are beginning a lengthy redistricting process.

Consulting demographer Mike Hefner said the process may take a year to a year and a half.

School board members will run in these new district lines in 2014.

“Your current districts were passed back around 2002,” Hefner said.

One of the things board members need to reduce with a new redistricting map are split precincts within the districts. Currently there is a split between Districts 4 and 6 and Districts 4 and 7.

“Our job is to reconfigure your districts so they fill into those precinct building blocks as much as possible. Now state law allows school boards to split up to two precincts per district.” Hefner said.

Hefner will try to configure districts so that the incumbent school board members remain within their present district.

There is not much wiggle room, with a five percent variance for each district.

“We also need to make sure we maintain our minority voting streams in Districts 1, 2, 4 and 6,” Hefner said.

The Justice Department reviews electoral district lines in most of the southern states, including Louisiana, to ensure that minority candidates and voters have a realistic chance to participate in the political process and gain office.

With the new census numbers, the largest amount of growth was in the middle of the parish.

“What we’re going to have to do is redistribute the population of the parish. Because you’re heavy in the middle and your light on the east end and your light on the west end. You need people to spread out from that central part,” Hefner said.

The next redistricting meeting will be July 27 at 3:30 p.m. This meeting and those thereafter will be set up in a workshop format so that there is no need for quorum.

“Anybody that is in the public that wants to come, I give them all equal status … they will have an active voice in this,” Hefner said.

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