By Betsy Dolan
Booming population growth in the last decade has prompted Lamar Consolidated Independent School District to redraw the boundaries for Board of Trustee voting districts. LCISD has seven districts and voters in each district elect one Board member.
The federal Voting Rights Act says LCISD’s seven single-member districts must be redrawn if the census indicates a 10 percent difference between the most populated district and the least populated district.
“The districts were severely out of alignment,” said Bob Stein, who was hired by LCISD, along with John Alford, both political science professors at Rice, to redraw the districts. “For example, the largest district had 32,000 people and the smallest district had 8,500 people so you had one board member serving a much larger population which isn’t fair representation.”
Alford and Stein used a mathematical system to uncover the ideal number of residents, 17,099, for each district. Then they set about moving the boundaries to redraw the seven districts with a more even “one person-one vote” population distribution.
Stein said they also had to make sure they didn’t diminish minority/majority districts that had large percentages of Hispanic residents.
“We really needed to be mindful of protecting the integrity of the communities during this process,” Stein said. “The district that was probably most impacted in that way was District 6 in the center of Richmond and Rosenberg which is about 40% Hispanic. We had to move some people out of District 6 and into Districts 1 and 3 while trying to respect the geographical character of the district.”
A representative from the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) endorsed the redrawn districts at a public hearing on October 23.
Once approved, the new district boundaries will take effect for the May 2013 Trustee election. Districts 1, 2, 3 and 6 are up for election in 2013; districts 4, 5 and 7 are up for election in 2015.
Lamar CISD must submit the boundary proposal to the Department of Justice for final approval.