BELEN — After six public meetings with little to no public input, the Belen Board of Education approved its new boundary maps for its five board seats.
There were minor changes to the boundary lines, mostly where the five districts meet in the population center of the district — the city of Belen.
A small area of District 1, currently held by Max Cordova, moved to District 4, held by Jim Danner. The area south of Vivian Road to about Goodson Lane between Main Street and First Street is now part of District 4.
In District 2, held by Aubrey Tucker, in the area south of Goodson Lane, where it butts up to meet Districts 1 and 4, the district’s western boundary was pushed east to Interstate 25 and now goes east of the Rio Grande, taking in the neighborhoods in the city of Rio Communities around Hacienda Drive south to Good Drive.
The new district boundary map was approved 5-0 at the board’s Oct. 11 meeting, and was one of three options presented to the board by consultant Colleen Martinez, who helped the district redraw its school attendance boundaries last year.
The purpose of districts is to give each board member about the same number of people to represent.
With the population numbers changing every 10 years after the federal census, some districts grow while others shrink, so elected boards have to redraw boundaries to even out the number of people per district.
After the 2020 census, the ideal population for each district is 5,719 people.
Belen Consolidated Schools district boundaries, current and proposed
During a redistricting workshop on July 28, board member Larry Lindberg, who represents District 3, said the five board districts need to be within plus or minus 5 percent of that ideal.
The BCS district, as a whole, grew by about 1,817 people in the last decade, but Lindberg’s district was one of two that experienced the most growth since 2010, increasing by 30 percent, to a current population of 6,268 before redistricting.
Tucker’s was the other district that experienced gains with a 4 percent growth — about 73 individuals — and had 5,341 people before the new boundary map was approved.
Prior to redistricting, District 1 had a population of 6,402; District 4 had 5,359 people; and District 5 had a population of 5,227.
The redistricting option approved by the board resulted in 5,737 people in District 1, 5,838 in District 2, 5,738 in District 3, 5,697 in District 4 and 5,587 in District 5.
The total population of Belen Consolidated Schools, which includes the southern half of Valencia County and part of northern Socorro County, is 28,597.
Martinez, the president at Albuquerque-based Visions in Planning, did the analysis of population shifts in the five BOE districts and created three redistricting options for the board to consider.
She noted all three options meet the requirement of being less than 5 percent over or under the ideal population of 5,719 people.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.