Turlock School Board Trustees will be elected by separate areas of the Turlock Unified School District (TUSD) in which they must live in.
The TUSD Board unanimously voted 6-0 (while one seat is still vacant due to the resignation of Lori Crivelli) to begin using a district election system that would designate areas within the School District that would each elect an area residing Trustee in hopes of better representing all areas of the district.
The TUSD covers the Turlock area while reaching into Merced County, Keyes, and Chatom.
TUSD Staff recommended the resolution to elect by districts instead of at-large with the belief that the all areas of the community would be better represented and served.
School Trustee Bob Weaver explained that this is more of a preemptive move in regards to a group called Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area that is legally challenging cities such as Modesto and school districts such as Ceres to comply with the California Voting Rights Act.
Trustee Weaver reiterated his Modesto Bee comments in that he doesn’t feel that the district is failing to represent any of its residents. Trustee Weaver went on to explain in a phone conversation with TurlockCityNews.com that the district has great teachers and staff in all areas of the district while also having excellent programs, and that reach all over the district, such as Cunningham’s GATE, Osborn’s Immersion Program, and the Walnut Elementary Education Center’s Magnet Programs.
If the group challenges a government entity in regards to what they consider is not an equal opportunity election for minorities and first time candidates, the government entity would have to pay for their legal fees whether they win or lose and could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
There is an estimated $15,000 price tag attached to the election change, but from all accounts is worth it compared to facing potential litigation.
TUSD will work on deciding the district boundaries in 2011 after they receive data from the 2010 Census.
The TUSD Board will work with a Citizens Advisory Committee, along with professionals, to draw district boundaries.
The 2011 election will include the 4 regular scheduled Trustee positions in addition to the appointee who is chose to fill the vacant Trustee position left by resigned Lori Crivelli, 5 total.
The divided district election will first take place in 2013 when 3 regular scheduled Trustee positions will be up for election including the vacancy appointment (which is required by law to be up for election on the scheduled term limit), Trustee Bob Weaver, and Trustee Josh Bernard.
In 2015 the remaining 4 Trustee positions will be elected by the divided district election system and will complete the phasing in of the process.