Districts for school elections approved

The redistricting plan for the St. Mary Parish School Board has received Section 5 preclearance from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Redistricting is required every decade following the U.S. Census to ensure racial and demographic equity within political voting districts.

Work on the redistricting was performed by demographer Mike Hefner of Lafayette, and the DOJ approval comes on the heels of plans being revised four times in order to keep the new district lines as close as possible to the old ones.

In an email to the school board, Hefner said he received approval of the new school board lines May 23 with additional information being received two days later.

“The Attorney General does not interpose any objection to the specified changes,” the email read. “However, we note that Section 5 expressly provides that the failure of the Attorney General to object does not bar subsequent litigation to enjoin the enforcement of the change procedures for the Administration of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.”

Superintendent Donald Aguillard said the good news was the result of several months of work with the board and Hefner.

“We did have several work sessions with Mr. Hefner and quite a bit of work went into getting the districts to align as closely as possible to the previous districts,” he said. “The final product largely left most districts the same as they had been.”

Aguillard said the greatest demographic change in any one district came to District 3.

He said Edward Payton Jr.’s district now covers a large swath of property from the west end to the east end of the parish.

“The remaining districts are largely identical,” he said. “By the time we arrived at Plan 4, most of the board was very, very happy with the new proposed district lines.”

Aguillard said he expected the new districts to go into effect during the next school board election in about two and a half years. School board candidates will then run in the new district lines.

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