SRVUSD trustee area election map approved

Map 102 divides district into five trustee areas for future elections

The San Ramon Valley Unified School Districts transition from at-large voting for elections to district-based voting has come to a close, as the Contra Costa County Office of Education has approved a map that will define trustee areas for future elections.

At its March 11 meeting, the Contra Costa County Board of Education voted 3-1 in favor, with one abstention, to approve the map -- known as Map 102 -- after months of review by SRVUSD staff and community members.

“We appreciate the Contra Costa County Board of Education’s time and attention to closely examine the maps, ask thoughtful questions and make an informed decision,” SRVUSD Superintendent Rick Schmitt said in a statement. “We are also grateful to our own SRVUSD Board of Education for their leadership and commitment to developing several maps, listening to community feedback and ultimately incorporating the needs of our community into trustee areas that will offer equal representation across our school district and continue our Board of Education's legacy of working to support each family.”

Under district based elections -- also known as by-trustee-area elections -- residents will only vote for the lone school board candidate who lives in their geographical area, as opposed to the current practice of at-large elections where residents vote for all available candidates. The change will essentially mean residents will only vote for one trustee every four years, instead of each available trustee seat every two years.

Map 102 divides the San Ramon Valley into five distinct geographical districts -- one for each trustee seat -- that generally follow city borders. Each high school in the map has at least three trustee areas overlapping it, and each middle school, with the exception of Stone Valley, has at least two.

Map 102 may only be used for the upcoming 2020 election -- where SRVUSD Board Members Mark Jewett and Greg Marvel will be up for re-election -- as district officials will revisit and potentially redraw an up-to-date map, using population data released from the 2020 census.

The 2022 election cycle would see Board President Rachel Hurd as well as members Ken Mintz and Susanna Ordway up for re-election for four-year terms.

“Our parents and community provided excellent input. Their engagement in this important conversation helped to drive the development of maps that reinforce the voters’ choice in placing our current trustees in their position,” SRVUSD Superintendent Rick Schmitt said. “This process validated our community’s support of the work of our Trustees and the District.”

The road to Map 102 was a long one paved with a number of informational meetings seeking public input on how the district can best change its election method. It began on Election Day, Nov. 5, when the board received a petition from the Bay Area Voting Rights Initiative, claiming that the district's current election method violated the California Voting Rights Act.

According to the groups attorney Scott Rafferty, the CVRA finds that at-large elections impair the abilities of protected classes to influence the outcome of elections -- a protected class being defined as voters who are members of a race, color or language minority group.

The petition was also addressed to the town of Danville, city of San Ramon, the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District and the Dublin San Ramon Services District, all of whom participate in at-large voting.

Rafferty was quick to praise the school district’s decision in selecting Map 102, saying he believed the board chose well.

“I am very pleased we are going to district elections, it is going to be in the presidential cycle, and among their maps (Map 102) was the best choice,” Rafferty told at the school board’s Feb. 21 meeting. “It complies with the law and that is going to be a positive change, it’s a long term reform and it’s the right thing to do.”

For exact measurements of areas populations and boundaries, as well as information on district-based elections, residents are encouraged to visit the district’s informational page on the SRVUSD website.

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