Turlock Unified School District (TUSD) Board of Trustees held a special meeting Monday night to adopt one of the three proposed by-trustee area maps drawn up by a consultant, and to decide which three districts of that map are to be assigned for election in 2013.
Plan C was the TUSD Board’s map of choice by a 6-1 vote, with Trustee Josh Bernard in opposition.
As Plan C was adopted, an amendment to add Earl Elementary School into district two of the map proceeded to be added into the resolution.
At the previous TUSD Board meeting, Trustee Loren Holt brought to attention that there was no school in district two of Plan C.
The amendment proposed Monday night results in each district having at least one school, with Earl School now in district two, an important revision to most Board members.
Additionally by a unanimous decision, districts 3, 4, and 6 of Plan C were chosen to be the districts assigned for election in 2013, and subsequently districts 1, 2, 5, and 7 are assigned for election in 2015.
In an effort to make Plan C more organized, part of the resolution will include switching area two and area three on the map.
This results in a revised map that districts 2, 4, and 6 are up for election in 2013, and districts 1, 3, 5, and 7 are assigned for election in 2015.
TUSD Trustee Tami Muniz lives in area 2, Trustees Bob Weaver and Eileen Hamilton live in area 4, and Trustee Josh Bernard lives in area 6. Trustees Loren Holt and John Sims live in area 3 and Trustee Frank Lima lives in area 5.
On the current TUSD Board, there are no Board members residing in Plan C’s districts 1 or 7, and candidates from these areas will not be elected until 2015.
Additionally, the two predominately Hispanic districts, 5 and 7, will not be up for election until 2015.
The Board’s chosen Plan C greatly differed from Plans A and B, as the map stretches each trustee area across the School District.
Plans A and B present more of a compacted approach and are focused on keeping school attendance zones together.
Also in Plan C, each district is a blend of rural and urban areas, allowing each area of the entire District to have multiple trustees.
All Board members, excluding Trustee Bernard, explained their preference for Plan C was that more stretched by-trustee areas would ideally result in trustees being focused more on the district as a whole, opposed to just their compacted district.
Trustee John Sims said his concern was, “whoever represents these districts have a district-wide perspective and not have a very narrow parochial focus.”
Trustee Bernard continued to express his concerns that stretching out areas, as presented in Plan C, may result in diluting the community.
He said that he preferred Plan A as it’s not stretched out over the entire district, and preferred Plan B as a second choice.
“Three (Plan C) basically is we’re doing our best to dilute everybody,” said Trustee Bernard. “There are no communities of interest or cohesiveness in map three.”
However, the Board’s overall preference for Plan C opposed the public input the Board received for Plans A or B.
At Monday’s meeting, Turlock City Councilwoman Mary Jackson gave her preference for Plan A or B.
“I think that the rural schools need to have representation,” speaking from her experience as a previous student of Chatom. “… (Plan) C it looks like it’s going to be very disjointed.”
In response, Board President Lima said, “Initially they (Board members) saw C as convoluted and drawn out, but the more you think about it, the more you realize that it may serve the community better.”
Trustee Holt previously had preferred Plans A or B, as they had a more compacted approach and allowed the trustee a specific area to look after.
“But the more I thought about it, we aren’t about a little area we’re about the whole District,” said Trustee Holt. “While it is important to know your neighborhood, it’s also important to know everyone else’s neighborhood too.”
Trustee Tami Muniz said that due to public favor for Plan B, she looked over the proposed map.
She explained a potential problem with voting in the district that has both Chatom and Keyes. Her concern was questioning if the voting would be fair, due to the number of voters in Keyes versus Chatom.
At first glance, Trustee Muniz described Plan C as “really complicated,” but with further studying decided it was not complicated at all.
“Hopefully it will bring out a variety of people that will run for some board positions,” she said.
From the first meeting, Trustee Bob Weaver explained the possible negative effects if trustees are only concerned about their area’s own interest, and not the entire District.
“The one that makes the best sense for the health of the District for now and for future years, that’s gonna be C,” Trustee Weaver said.
Board President Lima, Trustee John Sims, and Trustee Eileen Hamilton had the same concerns as Trustee Weaver, leading them to choose Plan C.
Board President Lima said that he is against Plan B due to the complications and limitations of home to school transportation.
Additionally President Lima said that Plan A only has one district that is predominately Hispanic, which is the protected class in this issue.
Plans B and C both have two districts that have predominately Hispanic communities.
A fourth map option was also presented at the meeting, named C2.
Plan C2 is the same as Plan C, with the amendment of moving Keyes back into one district, where it was separated in Plan C.
However, the Board favored Plan C over the newly presented C2.
The TUSD Board’s resolution will proceed to be sent to the County Committee for consideration and approval.
The Committee will then hold a second public hearing, and approve the selected map.
Upon Committee approval, the District will seek approval from the United States Department of Justice.
Upon the Department of Justice’s approval, the current districts 3, 4, and 6 (as per a revised schedule to be 2, 4, and 6 when districts 2 and 3 are switched) will be up for election November 5, 2013.