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Realignment of school districts considered

Lee Benjamin may not be mapped out of a School Board seat, after all. When the Pinellas County Commission recently redrew commission district boundaries, which School Board boundaries traditionally follow, they put Benjamin's house inside School Board member Corinne Freeman's district.

It looked as if Benjamin would be off the board if his colleagues followed history and adopted the revisions.

But School Board attorney Bruce Taylor has devised new board districts that he said not only keep all current board members in their own areas but also make the districts more equal according to population. The School Board will consider the changes Wednesday.

"They're all within 1,000 people of being equal to each other," Taylor said Thursday.

Taylor said some districts in southern Pinellas now have more people than those in northern Pinellas. But he said the population growth north of Ulmerton Road soon should compensate for that.

"I think it will be a better balance for the whole county," Benjamin said.

Having different district boundaries for County Commission and School Board seats is not unusual, according to Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Dorothy Ruggles.

"We've just been real lucky," she said this week.

Every 10 years, the districts are reviewed and adjusted according to the U.S. Census.

The changes should not affect outcomes of elections because both County Commissioners and School Board members are elected by voters countywide. They come from different districts to ensure all geographic areas are represented.

The School Board has five district seats and two at-large seats.

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