HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla — Based on current plans, by the time kids come back from winter break in January 2022, the Hillsborough County School District will be done adjusting its current district lines.
"Each of the board members can turn in a map," said school board chair Lynn Gray.
Right now, the district is considering several maps that have to be drawn with four things in mind:
- They can't cut across communities
- District 5's population must be at least 37 percent black
- Each district should have a relatively even number of people
- There should be a balance of ethnic groups between each district
To help achieve this, the school district is working closely with the county itself, which is also doing redistricting of its own
"Voters should have a very easy time saying 'Oh, my county commissioner district is district one and it looks like this and so is my Hillsborough County School District,'" said Gray
But as this initiative moves forward, some parents in the area say there are two major red flags with the process.
"A main concern is that this is being rushed. I agree with many people on that aspect, I think that it's something that is going to affect us for the next 10 years and that we need to take our time on," said Shannon Scott.
Because the school district got census data back much later than expected this year, some are pushing for the process to be postponed. According to state law, that would mean waiting until 2023.
But Gray said the school district likely won't do that because population growth has severely skewed current districts.
"If it's not changed to be consistent with equal representation then you will be sued by the DOE," she said.
She adds that it's something the district can't afford.
The next concern is connected to population growth. Some parents believe there's been enough of it in the southern part of the county, to warrant a sixth physical district on the map.
"The truth of it is, in [the] east and southern county we have overcrowded schools, congested roadways, the highest crash rates and we are not a part of the conversation," said Josephine Amato.
But how likely is it that we'll see a new district?
"I think it's a possibility, but right now there's a lot of politics going on," Amato said.
If you have questions or suggestions about the current maps being considered, the district is holding a series of community meetings across the county.
The next one is set for Nov. 16.
It's important to note these updated district lines won't impact your child's school zoning, but they will have an impact on who is elected to be your next school board representative. If passed by the end of the year, these new boundaries will be in effect for the upcoming 2022 school board elections.
Below are current maps the district is considering redistricting: