Santa Barbara Unified Transitioning from At-Large School Board Elections to Trustee-Area Elections

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Source: Santa Barbara Unified School District

Like many cities, school districts and other public entities across the state, Santa Barbara Unified has initiated the process of transitioning from at-large trustee elections to by-trustee area elections in response to the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (CVRA)

The process involves the creation of conceptual trustee area boundaries (maps) and providing opportunities for the public to learn more and give feedback. Santa Barbara Unified is utilizing the services of an independent, professional demographer, Cooperative Strategies, to prepare proposed boundary maps and community input opportunities. The demographer is working with District’s legal counsel to ensure that all draft trustee area map options are in compliance with the CVRA and other districting requirements. 

The District website contains all relevant details regarding this process, including proposed trustee area maps, a timeline, an FAQ, and dates for opportunities to learn more and provide input via community meetings and a survey. The next public hearing on this topic is scheduled for our Tuesday, October 12, 2021 regular school board meeting.

The proposed maps will be refined and revised following the public’s input. Ultimately, the Board will adopt a proposed map which will be reviewed and approved by the County Committee on School District Organization. Once the transition is approved, Board elections will be transitioned to by-trustee area elections beginning with the 2022 election. The current Board members will continue in office until the expiration of their terms in 2022 or 2024. The process does not impact student attendance boundary areas, or which school a student attends. It only impacts where the board members who are elected come from. 

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salsipuedes Oct 09, 2021 08:45 AM
Santa Barbara Unified Transitioning from At-Large School Board Elections to Trustee-Area Elections

What is the point of this act? Is it to improve the educational opportunities of the children in our community? Or is it to improve the opportunities for those who want to run for school board as a stepping stone to higher office? Since they're now interested in implementing this 20-year-old act, they ought to also implement the findings of the National Reading Panel of 2000 that quite clearly laid out how reading should be taught. But they have ignored it ever since, with the predictable 50 percent reading levels, if you're lucky. They have so many other priorities these days, in their now-stated mission to "prepare students for a world that is yet to be created," whatever that means.

Byzantium Oct 08, 2021 09:36 PM
Santa Barbara Unified Transitioning from At-Large School Board Elections to Trustee-Area Elections

District elections have not served any institution well. But internal partisan forces like them because it is far easier to buy enough low-interest district seats and create new board majorities with district elections. Residential qualifications for board members, but everyone voting for them at large works best, to keep the entire city or school district engaged and each elected official engaged also in the larger picture. CVRA ultimately created even more partisan divisions and led to one party dominance. Just one more negative impact caused by the one party rule in this state. District elections, regardless of their now well documented dysfunction, are cemented into the system. We lost this state by inches - term limits and district elections, are now added to universal vote by mail. We will look back to see when everything starting going bad in this state and those three "voter reforms" will stand out among the worst possible changes.

a-1633747397 Oct 08, 2021 07:43 PM
Santa Barbara Unified Transitioning from At-Large School Board Elections to Trustee-Area Elections

How unfortunate! District elections have not been good for the city as a whole, not so far, at least. But there's a community of interest for most issues and the city as a whole. But for the schools, there's a large discrepancy in test scores between Roosevelt, for instance, and Harding and what would be needing and good for Harding students probably would not be so for Roosevelt and likely will result in greater movement to private and charter schools. How the boundaries are drawn will be very interesting.

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