Denton LULAC members gathered Saturday to discuss their concerns about Denton County’s efforts to redistrict its commissioner precincts in time for 2020.
Lilyan Prado Carrillo, president of the Denton League of United Latin American Citizens Council, said the nonpartisan organization is concerned about how the use of information such as voter registration data will affect residents once precinct boundaries are altered. LULAC’s mission is to advance the quality of life of the Hispanic population in the U.S.
“Using only people who are registered to vote is not a good proxy,” Prado Carrillo said in an email. “We are extremely concerned with how this will affect boundary lines, funding [and] representation.”
Prado Carrillo, who is a Denton ISD teacher, said that if the Commissioners Court relies on voter registration data as a measurement for precinct population, an additional concern of hers is that Latino children might not be counted because of who their parents might be.
However, the factors that are will heavily impact Denton’s Latino community are “socioeconomic statuses [and] our ethnicity,” Prado Carrillo said, while acknowledging that many in the community are not registered to vote.
Altogether, she said, these factors would begin to impact funding for Title 1 schools, free after-school care and Head Start programs. Prado Carrillo added that although not every program receives funding from the county, the effect would “trickle down or up to the state.”
“The concern is that we’re going to be ghosts and that we’re going to be forced to do more and educate more kids with less funding,” Prado Carrillo said of the estimated 30.8% of students in Denton ISD who are Hispanic. “These are kids that deserve a quality education, no matter what ethnicity or background or status their parents might be.”
Rudy Rodriguez, a retired education professor, said funding for these programs is critical to maintaining quality and ensuring that all children are adequately served.
“There are economically and socially disadvantaged kids,” Rodriguez said. “And what has happened over the years is that there’s been a decline in the funding of public schools by not only the states, but also the federal government.”
House Bill 3, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law last week, includes about $6.5 billion in spending for public education and about $5 billion in property tax relief, but, Rodriguez said, “the pace of funding has not kept up with the growth of our student population.”
Since 2007, Denton ISD has seen estimated enrollment growth of nearly 30%, according to the district’s bonds website. By 2022-23 and 2027-28, the district estimates an increase in student population of about 14.15% and 23.20%, respectively, from current enrollment totals.
LULAC has received a letter asking for input on where or how new precinct boundaries should be drawn, but Prado Carrillo said the organization has yet to respond because it believes that “boundaries should not be drawn at this time.”
If LULAC were to submit redistricting suggestions to the Commissioners Court, it would “only encourage them to [draw precinct boundaries] with inaccurate population counts,” Prado Carrillo said, adding that the data will be skewed from looking at voter turnout numbers and using schools as indicators of population.
The Denton LULAC Council #4366 meets at 9:30 a.m. on the third Saturday of each month at the Denton Senior Center. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/DentonLulac4366.