Census data has shown that school board member districts must be redrawn due to population disparities within the district.

Population increases don’t just affect individual school attendance boundaries, it also has an impact on school board member districts.

Florida Statute 1001.36 requires that school board member districts be as “equal in population as nearly as practicable” and may only be amended in odd-numbered years.

The 2020 census data, released in August, indicates that school board member districts have grown disproportionately over the past decade, thereby requiring redistricting (the process of drawing electoral district boundaries) in 2021 to achieve greater equality between districts.

While population increases occurred in each of the five districts, the largest increases were noted in District 2, which experienced a 32 percent population increase from 247,195 to 327,197, and District 5, school board member Melissa Snively’s district, which increased in population from 249,874 to 309,719.

“Because I’ve been a school board member for seven years, the population increase has been gradual and I haven’t really noticed an unmanageable workload,” she said.

Although she hates to lose any of the constituents she serves, she understands the need for reappropriation for equitability among board members.

“I hope they feel like I have served them well over the last seven years, but I hate to lose constituents—that means I have to give up people and that makes me sad,” she said.

It is important to note that redistricting does not impact school attendance zones in any way and will not affect which school students attend.

The school district’s Growth Management Department is working with Hillsborough County’s geographic information system (GIS) team to assist with providing the school board with maps for consideration for the reapportionment of the single member districts.

“The mapping criteria we are asking the county to incorporate includes community integrity (keeping neighborhoods together), population, maintaining minority demographic balance and ethnicity breakdown,” said Superintendent Addison Davis.

The district will hold several Community Connection meetings to update constituents on the new 5-Year Strategic Plan, discuss the academic state of the district and identify areas to improve its practice. In addition, district staff will discuss school board redistricting, allow the public to review proposed maps and capture community feedback.

District 3’s meeting will be held at Lennard High School, located at 2342 E. Shell Point Rd. in Ruskin, on Wednesday, November 27. District 4’s meeting will be held at Durant High School, located at 4748 Cougar Path in Plant City, on Monday, November 29.

The meetings begin at 6 p.m. with discussion about the strategic plan, vision for the district and a question-and-answer session followed at 7 p.m. with discussion about school board electoral redistricting and a question-and-answer session.

In addition to the in-person meetings, the maps will also be posted on the district website and allow for feedback or comments online.

For more information about redistricting or provide feedback, go to www.hillsboroughschools.org and look under ‘District News.’

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MIchelle Caceres has been writing for the Osprey Observer for seventeen years. She enjoys writing human interest pieces about inspiring members of the community who are working to better our community. She lives in FishHawk Ranch with her husband and recently became an empty-nester. When not writing, Michelle is serving her church community, reading and enjoying Florida's weather.