By Marsha Sills
June 23, 2012
LAFAYETTE — Last year, the Lafayette Parish School Board voted to delay its decision on redrawing district lines, but one board member is pushing for a vote now.
“I think it’s past time to consider a plan,” District 2 board member Tommy Angelle said.
Angelle placed redistricting talks on the agenda for the board’s June 20 meeting.
Governing bodies redraw district lines every 10 years, based on U.S. Census data, to take account of population shifts.
“We have some (board members) representing 18,000 and some representing 8,000,” Angelle said of the nine-member board.
The School Board’s redistricting plan must be approved prior to the board’s next election, which isn’t until 2014.
Traditionally, the board has followed the same district boundaries as the Lafayette Consolidated Council, which also has nine members.
At last week’s meeting, the School Board was scheduled to take action on Angelle’s proposal to adopt the Lafayette Consolidated Council’s redistricting plan, which has already been approved by the U.S. Department of Justice; however, the decision was stalled again to allow absent board members Rae Trahan and Greg Awbrey the chance to vote on the issue.
The 2010 census shows Lafayette Parish grew by 16.3 percent, from a population of 190,503 in 2000 to 221,578 in 2010.
During an April 2011 workshop, the board learned from demographers that the ideal population per district is about 24,640 people. Based on those estimates, the largest deviation was in Trahan’s District 9, which has 32,648 residents, according to data released at the meeting.
In April 2011, the board considered several redistricting plans, including one proposed by the Lafayette Consolidated Council. At the time, the School Board voted to delay a redistricting plan and set a September 2012 deadline for a decision.
The Lafayette Consolidated Council adopted its redistricting plan last year, prior to its fall elections, but with much debate.
District 7 School Board member Mark Cockerham said part of the reasoning to delay the School Board’s vote last year was to wait for the “politics” of the council to play out.
“We had the option of waiting. We took the option,” Cockerham said.
Cockerham also supported stalling a board decision last year because some proposed council redistricting plans took Comeaux High School out of his district.
Cockerham said Monday he doesn’t have the same concerns because the council’s final plan retained the school in his district.