School board has until Dec. 31 to redraw its district boundaries

Goal is to make populations in all five districts within 10% of each other

By Wesley LeBlanc wesley@opcfla.com
Posted 9/15/21

CLAY COUNTY – The school board will be deliberating its district boundaries for the next few months before the Dec. 31 deadline.

The board is given the opportunity to redraw its district lines …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

Click here to see your options for subscribing.

Single day pass

You also have the option of purchasing 24 hours of access, for $1.00. Click here to purchase a single day pass.

School board has until Dec. 31 to redraw its district boundaries

Goal is to make populations in all five districts within 10% of each other

Posted

CLAY COUNTY – The school board will be deliberating its district boundaries for the next few months before the Dec. 31 deadline.

The board is given the opportunity to redraw its district lines every 10 years. The preliminary discussions began last Thursday, Sept. 9, during a special workshop held after the board’s budget meeting held that same day. The board was presented with two options and each would change the boundaries of each district but neither would actually affect board seats.

“There’s roughly 218,000 people here in Clay County,” Director of safety and security James Fossa said. “This is an exciting time. This is something we get to do in our tenure every 10 years and we’re just lucky to be here to see this happen. I want to show you guys the work that’s been done to see how we can put the entire county...to where it’s equitable for all citizens. I realize everyone’s at-large for elections, but everyone here still cares about their district.”

Fossa said all five districts need to be as equal – or at least within 10% of each other – in population as possible. The main goal is to divvy up the districts to 43,649 residents each.

Two options were presented to the board last week. Option 1 calls for four main changes: District 4 expands south to State Road 21, south of Old Jennings to the Blanding Boulevard “triangle.” District 1 will expand to Blanding Boulevard and Henley Road. District 2 will expand west beyond Cheswick Oaks Avenue and District 5 will expand west to State Road 21. None of the five board seats are affected by the changes.

If the first option is used, the new district populations would be: 44,751 residents in District 1; 47,273 in District 2; 41,150 in District 3; 41,717 in District 4 and 43.354 in District 5.

Option 2 included District 3 expanding northeast to include south of Old Jennings to the Blanding “triangle” with a new population of 39,811; District 1 expanding to Blanding and Henley Road and south of County Road 220 to Black Creek with a new population of 46,980; District 2 expanding west beyond Cheswick Oaks Avenue with a population of 42,273; and District 5 expanding west to State Road 21 with 44,522 residents.

The school board seemed to be more in favor of Option 1, but it’s taking its time until Dec. 31, which is when an official decision must be finalized.

The Board of County Commissioners will also soon go through its own redistricting process and Fossa and board member Ashley Gilhousen suggested the school board and the BCC meet to work through redistricting together. She said there could be some confusion among residents so she’d like the new district lines to be as similar as possible.

She said she’s aware it’s basically impossible to make the districts match up perfectly, but she said it wouldn’t hurt to meet with them to discuss possibilities. Board member Janice Kerekes pushed back against that idea and said the county board should determine its own districts and the school board should determine its own lines. Gilhousen said she recognized that, but she said it wouldn’t hurt to communicate with the BCC.

Board member Tina Bullock said the school board can draw their lines and come up with new numbers. Then, if the BCC is interested in lining the districts up as best as possible it could use the school board’s new districts.

“We all know the landscape is going to change so much over the next 10 years, but the question is how and when,” Gilhousen said. “None of that is set in stone and I don’t think we should consider that [it is]. If we can keep things as status quo as possible and keep within the law of the 10% rule...then Option 1 is probably the most palpable.”

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here