DNUSD Administrators View New Electoral Maps, Still Hoping for Public Comment | Wild Rivers Outpost
Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Friday, January 14 at 5:30 p.m. / Education, Elections
DNUSD admins review new electoral maps and still hope to get public feedback
Education officials in Del Norte County got their first look Thursday at four potential options for new trusteeship area boundaries and urged consultants to release as much information as possible to the public.
Acting as both the Del Norte County School Board and the Del Norte Unified School District Board of Trustees, officials discussed the role a school’s “recruitment zone” or attendance zone would play within these new limits.
After receiving just two comments in a public hearing, administrators asked district staff to create a designated email to collect feedback and ensure that parents and school teachers are aware of the potential changes.
“The biggest change we’re making is that instead of voting for all of us, (the public) will only vote for one of us,” said DNUSD Chairman of the Board, Don McArthur. “It should be clear that this is a significant change.”
Beginning with the general election on November 8, 2022, school trustees will be elected by voters living in the district they seek to represent. This is different from the current electoral model, which requires administrators to live in a defined area but allows voters from across the county to vote for them.
According to Jonathan Berry-Smith, an attorney with the law firm Walnut Creek Lozano Smith, the current general election model makes the DNUSD and the County Office of Education subject to litigation under California’s human rights law. vote.
California’s Voting Rights Act seeks to prohibit electoral models that could result in diminished voting power for “certain minority groups” or communities of interest, Smith told administrators.
The Del Norte Unified School District and the Del Norte County Office of Education must also go through a redistricting process using 2020 U.S. Census data to ensure an even population distribution.
According to PlanWest Partners spatial analyst Jason Barnes, under federal law county trust areas cannot deviate from each other by more than 10%. In Del Norte County, that gap is about 13%, he said.
“If you take the total population of Del Norte County, if you divide it by five, that will give you a target number to hit,” Barnes told administrators Thursday. “Essentially, that would be your total population divided by five; it would be just about 5,000 people. In Trust Area 2, the population is a bit low, so it is below this target, and Trust Area 5 is above our target.
Del Norte Unified and the County Office of Education held pre-map public hearings in September to discuss the need for redrawing and transitioning electoral models. Another public hearing will take place on January 27. Any proposed changes to the maps must be made public by next Thursday.
Currently, Trust Area 2, with a total population of 4,751, is below the target gap of approximately 5.5%, while Trust Area 5, with 5,410 people, is below this gap. 7.6%, according to Barnes.
The first of four options represented new guardianship areas as close to their current configurations as possible with a total population gap of 6.3%, according to Barnes. However, the school distribution under this option was “not great”.
“Some guardianship areas had four schools and some had only one,” he said. “It’s not necessarily a decision that we would choose to use one option over another, but it’s something I’ve noticed.
The second option was similar to the first, but had a somewhat more even school distribution. Trust Areas 1 and 3 would have two schools in their jurisdiction, Areas 2 and 4 would have three schools each, while Trust Area 5 would have one school.
Barnes said he rejected the third option to “shake things up”. As part of this iteration, the boundaries of Trust Area 4 would shift from Smith River to US 101 to include Smith River School.
Trust Area 3 would also include portions of the Smith River on the east and north side of US 101 to the Oregon border. Hiouchi and Gasquet to the east and Klamath to the south would also be included in Trusteeship Zone 3 in this third iteration.
“This one, it has a total deviation of less than 10%, but in terms of land area, some people might not like that because this particular trust area encompasses so much land mass,” Barnes said. “It also includes Smith River if people thought that community should be more included on the west side of US 101.”
The fourth option coincides with the new limits of the Del Norte
The county board of supervisors decided in December. The Supervisory Board decided on this card as the least destructive of the four options presented to them during the redistricting process.
On Thursday, Barnes told administrators that this option was also similar to the current administration area boundaries, but included a change to the Crescent City area.
While school attendance zones are not part of the federal criteria used to determine new trusteeship area boundaries, Smith said that could play into the community of interest stipulation.
“And that’s part of the reason why we have these public hearings so we can hear those concerns and hear those thoughts,” he said. “It may very well be that people want school attendance areas to stay together or not be divided here, or there may be a certain school attendance area that is not really a community of interest per se by compared to which the community does not. Keep in mind that this is a split between two fiduciary domains.
During Council deliberations, Charlaine Mazzei, Trustee Zone 4 representative, pointed out that while the third option of “shaking things up” redraws the boundaries of the Trusteeship Zone so that Smith River becomes part of the same area than other coastal communities, other changes were relatively minor.
“I think it would be helpful to have a better explanation of what the purpose of the differences is,” Mazzei said. “What does option 1 give us that option 4 doesn’t? At this point they don’t look that different, but I can see areas where there’s an overflow of those nice sharp boundaries and it’s still confusing to people.
Barnes noted that because new Trust Areas must stay within a certain population gap, the changes would be subtle. He noted that it is up to community members to dissect these intricacies.
“We can’t take Crescent City and put it in one trust area, it’s just too big,” Barnes said. “Crescent City, whatever happens, will have to be divided somewhere. As members of the community, these subtleties are really where you think the divide should be.
In an attempt to elicit more public comment, the administration’s Zone 2 representative Angela Greenough urged the district to hold more public hearings.
She also asked Smith and Barnes to make sure that all of the options, as well as the program used to determine the different configurations, are available on the district’s CVRA website.
According to Smith, the board is expected to adopt its final map on February 10.
• Option 1 of the proposed guardianship zones
• Option 2 of the proposed guardianship zones
• Option 3 of the proposed guardianship zones
• Option 4 proposed guardianship zones