Transition to By-Trustee Area Elections
Folsom Cordova Unified School District’s Process for Transition to By-Trustee Area Elections
The Folsom Cordova Unified School District (FCUSD) currently elects its Board of Education members through an at-large election system. Under this system, candidates for the Board of Education can reside anywhere within FCUSD's district boundaries. All voters within the district boundaries vote to elect each member of the school board. When elections are by-trustee area, the district is divided into smaller regions. The residents in each region vote for the candidate of their choice from their area but do not vote on candidates running for the school board in other regions.
The Board of Education has expressed its desire for all voters in the district to be heard and believes transitioning to elections by-trustee area supports that intent as well as brings the system of elections into alignment with all provisions of the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA).
Data from the United States census forms the basis of how trustee area boundaries will be drawn. Informal discussions have been held about bringing the recommendation to move to by-trustee areas forward in 2021 once data from the 2020 census was available. However, the District received a demand letter from an attorney from the Bay Area in February of this year. To protect the District from potential but unnecessary litigation costs, the Board has elected to make the transition for November of 2020. This will require that boundaries are drawn using data from the 2010 census.
The Board of Education took the first step in the process on March 12, 2020 when it adopted Resolution No. 03-12-20-31, declaring the intent to transition to by-trustee area election. The District will now engage in an effort to determine the criteria that should be used in determining the boundaries for trustee areas before using a professional demographer to produce potential maps for public review and input. The final map will need to be approved by the Board of Education as well as the County Committee on School District Organization.
During this first step, the District also adopted Resolution No. 03-12-20-32, requesting a waiver from the California Department of Education that will avoid the need to ask local voters to weigh in on the transition. Taking the question to voters would delay the transition past the November 2020 election, potentially exposing the district to costly litigation expenses. The at-large system of elections may not meet all legal requirements even if it is the preferred format by local voters.
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