BUSD GOVERNING BOARD ADOPTS TRUSTEE AREA ELECTIONS
On December 12th, the Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District formally adopted a resolution to transition to a “by-trustee area” election system. Based on a letter to parents from Superintendent Charles F. Young, ED.D., under the current “at large” system, all registered voters in the district’s boundaries can vote for candidates for Board member seats. With the new proposed system, candidates will be elected by “trustee areas.” This means only voters within a given trustee area can vote for candidates who reside within that same area. The intent of this proposed system is to offer greater opportunities for Board representation for candidates that might not otherwise be elected under an at-large system.
As Governing Board President Diane Ferrucci points out, the district has reached a critical position. BUSD must comply with the legal requirements of the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA). It is the only school district in Solano County that has not adopted the by-trustee area election system. If BUSD continues with at-large elections, the District could be open to a lawsuit. “Why wait to do it? It’s the law,” Ferrucci says. “Now that we are aware, let’s make an effort to avoid a lawsuit.”
The process to transition…
…to the by-trustee area election system began back in September of 2019. Two public meetings were held for input from the community before the proposed trustee area maps were created. Three subsequent public hearings were then held to solicit comments and feedback about three proposed map scenarios. If citizens were unable to attend the meetings they were encouraged to submit their comments to beniciaunified.org. There was a monumental effort to inform the community about the whole process, including parent and staff meetings at the schools with Superintendent Dr. Charles Young. Information appeared in the City of Benicia newsletter, Valero newsletter, and on social media. Ferrucci noted that great effort was made to inform every partner and stakeholder.
BUSD hired a demographer…
…to create the three trustee-area map scenarios using the 2010 census data and additional permitted updated data. The Governing Board established important criteria for the selection of the “scenario” (map boundaries) that would be used for trustee areas. According to Ferrucci, the board chose map scenario #1, as it was the “least disruptive,” and she and the board are steadfast that no board member would be tied to a school, and no school was directly connected to a board member. The Governing Board will submit a petition to the Solano County Committee on School District Organization for review and approval of the change from an “at-large” to a “by- trustee” area election system. Once approved, it will be forwarded to the appropriate state agencies in order to be implemented. Thus, “by-trustee” area voting would be held, starting with the 2020 general election on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
…that one very important thing to remember in all of this is that regardless of which school your child attends, the Board is there for everyone. “We are all there for all of you, we are all of your board members.”