School district changing trustee election areas to districts
–The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District announced last week in a newsletter that the district would be continuing forward with plans to change school board trustee election areas.
Most school districts traditionally elect their trustees “at large.” This means trustees can reside anywhere within the district boundaries and are voted on by all the registered voters. Threats of litigation based on the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) prompted many districts (as well as cities and counties) to modify their system to designate trustee district areas, thereby ensuring representation of various constituencies that are often underrepresented on elected boards.
On advice of legal counsel, the PRJUSD Board of Trustees voted in 2019 to pursue a change to a “by trustee area” voting system (similar to the City of Paso Robles) using 2020 census data to determine what those areas should be. COVID-19 has delayed the census data, so the board will be moving forward using 2010 census data to determine trustee areas. Then maps will be reviewed in 2022 using 2020 census data for possible revision.
This change means future candidates running for the school board will need to reside within specific areas, and only voters residing in those areas will vote on those candidates. A professional demographer will develop maps for review by the community and approval by the board. It will take several school board and public meetings for this to be formulated. These changes will be effective for the November 2022 election.
Trustees are elected for four-year terms, with three elected in one election and four in the next election, every two years. Any trustee whose term does not expire with the 2022 election but who does not reside within the newly drawn boundary will retain their seat until the 2024 election. At that point, all trustees will be elected based on residency in specific trustee areas.