ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – St. Johns County has a new plan of how districts are drawn up.
The county commissioners and school board each voted unanimously on a plan, known as Plan B-1, on Thursday morning that will be in place for the next 10 years. The plan will reshape the district and is required by law following the census.
St. Johns County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the state and has seen major changes in the last decade.
County leaders focused on two areas the most when redrawing the new map.
An important thing to note: Redistricting is in no way related to student attendance zones and will not affect where a child attends school. However, it may change which board members represent each voting district.
The two districts getting a lot of discussions were District 2, home to Flagler Estates and District 4, where the Ponte Vedra Beach community is located.
Commission Chairman Henry Dean said the new plan creates equal representation, especially when it comes to voting.
“It provides what we are required to provide under the federal Constitution, which is basically one man, one vote,” Dean said.
Plan B-1 was the popular choice.
School board member Tony Coleman who represents District 2 said the new plan it keeps Flagler Estates and West Augustine together, two of the oldest areas he said helped build St. Johns County.
“Historically, District 2 has produced teachers, farmers, nurses, doctors, dentists, mayors, councilmen, senators, and military vets,” Coleman said.
In the northern part of the county, District 4, which covers the Ponte Vedra Beach community, including Neck Road will not be split up. That’s something school board member Kelly Barrera was pleased with.
“I don’t want to see those people cut out of District 4,” Barrera said. “I can absolutely support plan B-1 and support any of the plans that keep District 4 together.”
The most significant changes to district maps are expected in the Northwest part of the county, where the population growth has been concentrated.
District 1 in Northwest St. Johns County will shrink and District 5, which covers downtown St. Augustine, would be expanded north. District 2 in the southwest would also expand north.
The new layout provides balance, leaders said.
Dean said because of the growth in St. Johns County, Districts 1 and 4, represented roughly 65% of the county’s population, while the other three districts added up to 35%.
“We had to equal that out by law and that is the right thing to do to have equal representation from each district,” Dean said.
It wasn’t immediately clear when the new districts would take effect.