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CVRA By-Trustee Area Map

The SLCUSD Board of Trustees is currently elected under an “at-large” election system, where trustees are elected by voters of the entire District in even-numbered years and serve staggered, four-year terms. Recently, however, public entities have had their at-large election systems challenged under the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) which resulted in expensive and divisive litigation.

 On April 16, 2019, the Board adopted Resolution No. 16-18-19 to initiate a transition to a By-Trustee Area Election System commencing with the 2022 Election. The Board intended to wait until the release of the 2020 Census data, scheduled for March 2021, and then immediately begin the transition process. However, due to COVID-19-related delays, the 2020 Census data is not expected to be available until September 30, 2021 or later which would create an incredibly tight timeline to complete the process in time for the 2022 elections. 

 At their April 20, 2021 meeting, the Board received an update on the current Census Bureau delays, and a proposed timeline moving forward. They adopted Resolution No. 20-20-21 to allow the Board to initiate the transition process immediately using the 2010 Census data and then review the 2020 Census data when it’s released to make sure the adopted trustee areas will have the appropriate population balance. (The final maps to be used in the 2022 election will rely on the 2020 census data.)

 At the May 4, 2021 meeting, there was a second public hearing to receive feedback and set criteria for the demographers to design the trustee areas. The Board adopted Resolution No. 22-20-21 to approve that criteria which enabled the District’s demographers, National Demographics Corporation to draft trustee area maps for Board and public consideration. 

At the June 15, 2021 meeting, the Board adopted Resolution No. 29-20-21 initiating a proposal to the San Luis Obispo County Committee on School District Organization for the adoption of By-Trustee Area Elections and approved the map known as Yellow 2 Map.

A school district seeking to transition to a by-trustee area election system must submit an application to the local County Committee on School District Reorganization for approval. If the County Committee approves the school district’s application, California Education Code section 5020 would require an election to approve the transition to by-trustee area elections. To avoid the costs associated with an election (between $60,000 and $360,000) and to ensure timely implementation, the Board adopted Resolution No. 23-20-21 to seek  a waiver from the State Board of Education of this election requirement, as well as certain other Education Code sections related to the election requirement. If the waiver is granted by the State Board of Education, no election to approve the change to by-trustee area elections will take place, and the County Committee’s decision on the District’s proposal will be final. Pursuant to Education Code sections 5019 and 33050, the Board invites community input on the proposed waiver request. Any member of the public or representatives of the school district will be provided the opportunity to offer oral or written comments on the matter.

The District utilized the 2010 Census data to complete this transition knowing that there might need to be changes upon the release of the 2020 U.S. Decennial Census Data, school districts that use by-trustee area elections are required to evaluate whether their current trustee areas have approximately equal population, using the new census data.  As a general rule, the variation in total population among trustee areas must not exceed 10%.  If the total peak variation is less than 10%, no changes are needed. If the total peak variation exceeds 10%, trustee area boundaries need to be adjusted.  This process is referred to as redistricting. 

The District has retained professional demographers, National Demographics Corporation, to conduct a study of the 2020 Census data to determine whether the current trustee areas are population balanced. NDC will present the findings of their study at the Board’s November 16, 2021 Board meeting. The District anticipates that as a result of this study, there will be some small adjustments to the map to ensure this population balancing and NDC will present a proposed map option that makes these adjustments for the Board and community to consider. 

The redistricting process will be transparent, and everyone will have the opportunity to provide their input on the proposed revised map. The Board will hold at least two public hearings through the process and will ensure the proposed map is posted on the District’s website. The first public hearing will be held during the November 16, 2021 Board meeting and the second will be during the December 14, 2021 Board meeting when the Board will likely adopt a resolution establishing the new trustee area boundaries. After adoption of a new trustee area map, that map will be sent to the County Superintendent of Schools and the County Registrar of Voters. The County Registrars of Voters will then adjust precinct boundaries before the filing deadline for the November 2022 trustee election. The new map will be used for the first time for the November 2022 election.