TUSD redistricting, the saga continues
Tehachapi School Board Update
June 11, 2022
On Thursday, June 2, just one block away from the first Farmers Market of the season, the Tehachapi Unified School District held a special board meeting for public comment on the redistricting maps for the Tehachapi Unified School District Board of Trustees.
The board is required by law to hold its elections not at-large, but instead have each of the trustees represent a certain district. The law is designed to promote local representation in diverse school districts. Tehachapi is a community with an approximate 23% percent Hispanic population.
At the previous May 16 meeting, a vote was held to decrease the number of board members from seven to five members. This was voted down 4/3 with board member Kermode being the deciding vote. Kermode stated he wanted more information and to see the proposed maps before making a decision about lowering the amount of board members. The paperwork for the waiver was still sent in the event Kermode decides that a five member board would be more beneficial.
The Election Waiver to reduce the number of board members from seven to five without a public vote was filed on May 20 to the State Board of Education. The Board of Elections have placed the matter on their September docket. This is well after the time frame that TUSD must submit their maps for the 2022 election. Legal Counsel for TUSD provided three potential timelines. The first is if Trustee Kermode votes for a seven member district, in which case the maps are submitted and elections continue. The second timeline is if the board decides to lower the number of trustees to five and would adopt a seven district map for 2022 and a five district map for 2024. The final timeline is if the board agrees to a five member map and attempts to adopt this change in time for the 2022 election. This timeline presents potential exposure to litigation if the election waiver is not approved by the Board of Elections.
Four maps were generated by the demographers, two with five districts and two with seven districts. All maps show the cultural demographics of each district and the population deviation between the largest and smallest districts. The seven district maps were well liked by the parents in attendance, and Map 701 seems to follow the stated goals of the California Voting Rights Act the best. The 701 map provides the lowest population deviation of only 3.6%. The 701 map also promotes ethnic representation with districts 4, 5 and 6 containing a 30% Hispanic population. Each elementary school in Map 701 is represented by more than one trustee, ensuring each school would have more than one advocate on the board. The public resoundingly disliked the five district maps in comparison.
The public again echoed concern about the speed in which both the Election Waiver to reduce the board size, and the speed of the redistricting of TUSD are occurring. The present timeline does not leave room for error, longer public discussions or many changes, however there will be a vote on June 16 to adopt a district map, as the current timeline for redistricting requires the maps be submitted 125 days before the November election.
You can look at the proposed maps and timelines presented by legal counsel by visiting http://www.tehachapiusd.com.
The TUSD Board of Trustees meets on the second Tuesday of the month at Wells Education Center located at 300 S. Robinson St., at 5 p.m.