FORT WORTH -- School trustees are expected to vote tonight on a redistricting plan that would create a ninth voting district. They tabled the decision last month.
A group of Hispanic residents will present yet another revised plan that they say provides fair representation to minority voters while addressing some neighborhood concerns.
Fort Worth trustees had narrowly decided to delay the vote at their last meeting after they could not agree on a plan drafted by the district's advisory committee.
Some worried it did not reflect the growing Hispanic population in the area -- and in fact weakened the chances of Latinos to elect a candidate of choice. But supporters of the plan say that at least three districts would have Hispanics making up more than 50 percent of the voting population and another district in which they made up 43 percent of the voting population.
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A main sticking point was the inclusion of the mostly Anglo Park Hill and Berkeley Place neighborhoods in District 8 and Mistletoe Heights in the new District 9, which is made up mostly of Riverside neighborhoods.
Although Hispanics would still make up a majority of the residents in the proposed Districts 8 and 9, many critics of the map say having those Anglo neighborhoods in those districts would dilute the Latino community's voting power.
Fernando Florez of the United Hispanic Council of Tarrant County said his group's new compromise map would include the Oakhurst neighborhood in District 9 but not Mistletoe Heights. Park Hill would not be included in District 8 but Berkeley Place would.
"The average person may not notice a difference because the numbers are close, but based on the experience that some of us have, we know how those precincts turn out to vote," Florez said.
Additionally, one precinct near Mitchell Boulevard would be split between Districts 2 and 4 to strengthen the African-American populations in those areas, Florez said.
Last month Trustee T.A. Sims said he had intended to support the Hispanic group's initial plan until he saw it dropped the black population in his district to just below 50 percent. The compromise plan would have District 4's black population at 50.5 percent versus the 50.1 in the advisory committee's plan.
Currently the district has two Hispanics on the board and two African-Americans.
Bert Williams, a former city councilman who is leading the district's advisory committee, said he hasn't seen the Hispanic group's revised plan but has an issue with splitting up precincts. He said the advisory committee's plan is fair and will hold up against scrutiny from federal authorities, who must approve it.
The district has to redraw voting districts to accommodate changes in the district's population after each census.