School board members' geographic areas updated

Rising population made the move necessary

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The boundaries dividing the Douglas County Board of Education’s representation areas have been updated in an effort to ensure equality and account for population growth.

The school board voted 4-3 to approve newly drawn director district boundary lines Dec. 13.

There are seven director districts represented by the letters A-G, with each school board member assigned to a district.

Every four years, state law requires the board to revise the districts to ensure they contain “substantially the same number of persons.”

Population growth in the county in recent years meant the boundaries needed tweaking so that that the number of residents in each district were equal.

The new lines were drawn by Shannon Bingham of Western Demographics, a Boulder-based company that specializes in demographic analysis, enrollment projection and operational planning for school districts. Bingham provided the board with four maps as choices.

The board decided on one based on elementary school boundaries, dividing the population of the district as evenly as possible based on the elementary schools' geographic footprint. Each district represents an average of 48,387 people.

Historically, the boundaries had been drawn based on population alone. The new map only represents a slight change with the boundaries closely resembling their historic patterns.

The board discussed the possibility of aligning the districts by voting precincts instead, which board President Meghann Silverthorn and board members James Geddes and Steven Peck preferred.

“Obviously this is something that we don’t discuss very often but precincts and director districts are both political boundaries, so having them aligned is perhaps in the best interest of the district,” Silverthorn said.

The board was advised by Bingham to base the boundaries on Census data instead to ensure they meet federal law.

“I've done over 130 of these in the last 33 years and I haven't done any where I aligned to precincts,” Bingham said. “I've never used those as a building block.”

Director district boundaries were last evaluated and updated in 2012. According to the Douglas County Community Development department, the county's population has increased by approximately 26,210 people since 2012.

School board member Anne-Marie Lemieux said since board members are elected at large — meaning by all voters in the county — the important thing is "keeping continuity for our children."

"Clearly you don’t want a situation where some kids are in a different district even though they go to the same elementary school," she said.

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