BRADENTON -- The Manatee County School District took another step forward in the process of drawing new district boundary lines with a public workshop at the district’s administrative office.
Standing by Monday night to address public concerns were County Commission Chairwoman Carol Whitmore, Deputy County Administrator Karen Windon, School Superintendent Tim McGonegal, and student demographics supervisor Danny Lundeen.
The fact that no residents attended didn’t seem to worry McGonegal.
“I think the county has done such a good job,” McGonegal said regarding work invested by county staffers and commissioners on redrawing district boundary lines.
School board members want school district boundary lines to be consistent with the county commissions’. On Oct. 25, county commissioners gave informal approval on a set of maps they believe balance district populations while maintaining a demographic balance. The proposed new map would balance district populations within 4,500 people of each other.
“We’re pretty comfortable that the population breakouts make good sense,” Windon said Monday. “We’re still soliciting public input.”
While the school and county commission districts would correspond, there is one big difference in the two elected groups. Commissioners are elected by voters within their districts, except for two at-large commissioners who are elected county-wide. School board members are elected by voters throughout the county, rather than just in their district.
The purpose of the district’s redistricting is to adjust to the booming population in East Manatee. Since 2000, the population in Barbara Harvey’s downtown Bradenton and Palmetto district grew from 54,757 to 77,002. Julie Aranibar’s East Manatee district grew from 53,617 to 91,994.
The county’s maps will change those numbers, allowing each board member to have between 59,000 and 67,000 residents, which meets the goal of equalizing residents in each area.
The number of schools in each area will also change.
Harvey would go from having 11 elementary, middle and high schools to 12. Harry Kinnan, representing west Bradenton and the islands, would go from 10 to 11. Aranibar would go from 16 schools to 11. Robert Gause, whose district covers a giant area of north Manatee out to Parrish and Duette, would increase his schools from seven to nine. Karen Carpenter, who represents southern Manatee from University Parkway to the Whitfield area, would gain an additional school, giving her a total of seven.
School Board members meet with the Manatee County Commission to discuss the boundaries during a joint workshop at 11 a.m. Nov. 15 in the fourth floor Manatee Room of Manatee County Administrative Building, 1112 Manatee Ave. W.
School board members won’t take a final vote until Dec. 12 at a public hearing.