Jeff Davis School Board to redraw district lines

Published 6:33 pm Friday, September 3, 2021

JENNINGS — The Jeff Davis Parish School Board approved a measure Thursday to begin the initial plans to redraw its district lines to meet shifts in the parish’s population based on new Census figures.

The School Board is faced with redrawing its district lines every 10 years to meet shifts in the parish’s population based on the latest census count and ensure that the changes do not dilute the minority voting strength.

The board adopted a resolution declaring that a reapportionment of the election district boundaries is needed to rebalance the district populations. Each district must be within a plus or minus 5 percent of the ideal district population of 2,481.

The resolution is the first step in many steps in determining whether the board has to reapportion, according to demographer Mike Hefner.

Based on the Census count, District 1 (Lake Arthur), District 6 (Jennings), District 12 (Roanoke) and District 13 (Lacassine) are outside the allowable plus or minus 5 percent deviation of the ideal population. The boundaries in those districts will need to be adjusted to bring them into compliance.

“We will have to go through the actual redistricting process now to adjust your boundaries so that we get everybody back in balance and work to preserve your minority voting strength,” Hefner told the board.

A redistricting workshop will be scheduled in the future to allow the board to review what kind of adjustments can be made to the lines that are appropriate for the community, he said.

“Once we get to that point that we find, or develop a plan together that everyone likes, we will move that to the normal adoption process which is done by resolution,” Hefner said.

The redistricting plan will not affect taxes or school attendance zones, only election districts.

The School Board has until Jan. 31, 2022 to submit the plan to the U.S. Justice Department for pre-clearance. The plan must also be submitted to the state by June 7, 2022.

If approved, School Board members would qualify for the fall 2022 elections under the new plan. Qualifying for the office is slated for July 2022.