FORT WORTH -- The school board has given preliminary approval to a redistricting map containing four single-member districts that are mostly Hispanic, which officials say better reflects the makeup of the 80,000-student Fort Worth district.
The map also adds a ninth district and makes significant changes to districts on the east side.
Trustees are expected to schedule public hearings on the plan at today's board meeting. After taking public input, trustees plan to adopt its final version in the fall and submit the map to federal officials for approval.
"We tried to keep the politics out of it, even though we had one or two that tried to put it in there," said former Councilman Bert Williams, chair of the advisory committee that brought forward recommendations. "But even at that, the point was we were able to sit down like intelligent people and discuss things. I think everyone really tried to make it fair to everyone."
The school district is redrawing voting districts to adjust for demographic changes in the last decade and to create a ninth district. Currently, trustees are elected from eight single-member districts, and the president is elected by voters at large, the only school district in the state to do so. Under the new plan, the president will be elected by board members.
The significant growth of Hispanics in the area figures heavily in the plan. In the last decade, the district has gained about 45,000 Hispanic residents and lost about 38,500 Anglos.
The total number of blacks dipped slightly, about 1,000, but the shift between Hispanics and blacks is significant in the east side, which is reflected in the new map.
The current board has two Hispanic, two black and five Anglo trustees.
The new District 9 would have a Hispanic majority and represent Carter-Riverside and Trimble Tech high schools and their surrounding neighborhoods, including Riverside, Oakhurst and Fairmount.
Trustee Juan Rangel, who now represents District 8, would be in the new District 9.
District 8 would remain a Hispanic-majority district. The other Hispanic-majority district is District 1, in north Fort Worth.
Rangel told the advisory board that it did quality work in producing a map without the conflict and controversy common to the redistricting process, although he added it is likely to receive some criticism from the public.
"You've really brought to us a delight because it makes it easier for us to put our hands around," Rangel said.
The map would make significant changes to District 3 on the east side.
It moves Polytechnic High School and nearby neighborhoods from Trustee Christene Moss' District 3 to Trustee Tobi Jackson's District 2, which also includes Eastern Hills High School. District 3 would then mostly comprise areas east of East Loop 820, including the Woodhaven and Handley neighborhoods.
Initially, the advisory committee recommended two maps, but one had both Jackson and Moss in District 3, which Moss has represented for 21 years.
"I don't want to take a plan that has two of my colleagues in the same district," Trustee Ann Sutherland said. "I think that would be futile and just a waste of time."
District 2 would become 48.9 percent Hispanic, up from its 2000 makeup of 15.7 percent.
The map keeps District 3 a majority black district. The district's demographer had said early in the process that it would be difficult to keep Districts 3 and 4 predominately black because of the large increase of Hispanics on the east side.
District 4 would retain its black majority, although barely, at 50.1 percent. Trustee T.A. Sims, who is black, is the longest-serving trustee, at 28 years.
Sims said he understands that his area is changing, but he joked with the board that there isn't much he and Moss can't work out.
"You all can go on tonight feeling good," he told the advisory board last week.
Eva-Marie Ayala, 817-390-7700