Gainesville City Schools Board meeting
What: Updates on Race to the Top, construction on Fair Street school and the P.K. Dixon fieldhouse and discussion on state legislature
When: 6 tonight
Where: Gainesville City Schools Board Office, 508 Oak St., Gainesville
Hispanic students make up a significant portion of Gainesville's eight schools.
Out of five members on the school board, however, they only have one representative, Delores Diaz, whose husband is of Spanish descent and fluent in the language.
Diaz said the lack of Hispanic school board members has never been brought up by a constituent as an issue.
"It is a concern of mine, though, because the Hispanics are the majority minority in Ward 4. The number of actual voters doesn't represent the numbers in the population," she said. "My concern that I've expressed with the redistricting is to make sure that we maintain the majority minority population in Ward 4 so the Hispanics can elect their own representatives."
Diaz said the school board does a good job representing all students, and board members do pay special attention to Hispanic students in the school system.
"We have so many programs to help them move into the mainstream," she said. "I don't feel there is any sort of neglect on the part of the system for helping Hispanic students. We're all strong advocates for the Hispanic population."
Both Diaz and Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said it was important to inform and educate not only adults, but the Hispanic population in Gainesville that has grown up here and is soon to reach voting age.
"I think all of us in Gainesville need to do what we can to bring these people into the voting population and inform them about how to register to vote, how to vote, the advantages of voting and how they can actually become part of a process," Diaz said.
"Until the Hispanic population reaches the point of being involved in the process, we on the school board have to be their voices. We have to become familiar with what their needs are. I think we're doing a really good job of that and therefore I have not been made aware of any particular concerns."
She spoke with a Gainesville High School student recently who wants to bring voter registration teams to the school to help get graduating seniors involved, which she called "an excellent idea."
Dyer said there has been speculation that in future years, there might be more elected Hispanic leaders because there will be more Hispanic voters.
Diaz believes there should be representation for this ethnic group.
"They represent a large portion of our population and I believe the representation should be there for them," she said. "I would say I do think there should be representation for the Hispanics on the school board and the City Council."