EG Unified Board Begins Redrawing Map of Trustee Zone | New
In 2019, the Elk Grove Unified School District (EGUSD) Board of Directors voted to reform its election process and launch the new “trustees area” system in the November 2022 election. May 4, they voted to re-commit to this change as they begin to redraw their fiduciary zone map for the 2020s.
Later that night, the board held the first of six public hearings on the future map of the Trustee Zone which covers an area of 330 square miles that includes 67 schools and more than 63,000 students. The new map is expected to be adopted by next March.
“The public will define what is important to them in these maps,” said Rob Pierce, assistant superintendent of business services and facilities for the district.
Under the upcoming “constituency” electoral system, voters can only choose from candidates running in their local constituency. The seven board trustees each represented a region, but were previously elected by the constituents of the district. Advocates believe that the new electoral system will make the campaign easier and less expensive since candidates would only have to run in one trusteeship area instead of the entire district.
Trustees Carmine Forcina and Tony Perez are longtime advocates of the zone trustee system. In 2015, the majority of school boards voted to maintain their hybrid election system instead of the district-by-district system.
“I was carefully dissected that night for having the audacity to bring this topic to the table,”
Forcina told the school board on May 4.
That night, Michelle Cannon, an attorney for Lozano-Smith, informed the school board that adopting the fiduciary zone system would make Elk Grove Unified less likely to be charged with violating the California Voting Rights Act. This 20-year-old state law obliges governments to hold elections that do not hamper the influence of voters in racial, ethnic and linguistic minority groups.
Cannon also noted the high financial losses for governments that legally defended their electoral systems against alleged violations of the franchise law. The town of Modesto paid a settlement of $ 3 million and the Unified School District of West Contra Costa paid a settlement of $ 310,000, according to the Lozano-Smith report.
In 2019, the Elk Grove School Board was part of several Sacramento area boards that moved to the trustee or district system.
Elk Grove City Council reformed its elections in every district after receiving a legal warning from Kevin Shenkman, a Malibu-based lawyer, who alleged they were denying Latin American voters their rights because city council failed of Latino members at the time despite the fact that the city had a large Latin American population.
Last November, Elk Grove City Council and Cosumnes Community Services District Council held their first district elections. All incumbents were re-elected in that election and Kevin Spease was elected to the District 3 seat of City Council after his predecessor, Steve Detrick, decided not to run for office.
In the 2022 Elk Grove School Board Election, seats will be up for election in Trustee Zones 2, 4, and 5, which are respectively held by Dr Crystal Martinez-Alire, Gina Jamerson, and Chair of the advice Beth Albiani.
School board begins remapping process
Every 10 years, the Elk Grove School Board redraws its Trustees Zone map to reflect changes in the population in their district. The current map of the Elk Grove Unified Trust Zone was approved by council predecessors in 2011 and this map is based on 2010 census data.
The school board initially expected to use 2020 census data as a guideline this summer, but the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the release of state census data. District staff said the 2020 census data they needed for their redistribution process would not be available until late September at the earliest.
Due to the backlog of data, the school board chose to use the 2010 census data first in order to begin redrawing the map of the school board district. Administrators will change the map later when they receive the 2020 census data. Cannon warned that waiting for the 2020 census data to be released this fall could reduce the possibilities of adding items to the mapping process.
“It puts us behind the ball to do all of this for the 2022 board election,” she said.
Throughout the process, the council will be guided by the National Demographics Corporation, a Glendale-based company that specializes in districting. Company consultant Shalice Tilton advised the board to redesign the trust zones to have roughly the same number of residents – totaling up to 44,850 people in each zone. She said that the population differences between the trust zones should not exceed 10%.
The board may also take “communities of interest” into account when redesigning its trust zones. These communities are defined as areas where residents have common interests such as school attendance boundaries, common neighborhood concerns, or languages spoken at home. Tilton also said the council can take into account the limits of highways, main streets, rivers and areas around parks.
She advised administrators to avoid “racial gerrymandering” or redraw the areas reserved for administrators to include only high concentrations of voters of a specific race or ethnicity.
Members of the public can comment on the proposed maps at upcoming council hearings. The next school board hearing on the trustee zone mapping process will take place at its May 18 meeting. It is scheduled to start reviewing the map drafts on June 15.
The May 18 board meeting will begin at 6 p.m. and can be viewed online at www.EGUSD.net.