Board Elections by Trustee Area

    The San Juan Unified School District Board of Education has adopted a resolution declaring its intent to move from an at-large system of election to elections by trustee areas. If approved, the change would become effective for the November 2020 general election. 

    What is the difference between at-large elections and trustee areas?  

    In an at-large election, all voters in the school district 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. 

    What is the process to transition between systems?  

    The Board of Education took the first step in the process on March 10 when it adopted a resolution declaring the intent to transition between systems. 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 process, the district will also be seeking 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. 

    Why is the district making this change now?  

    The Board of Education has expressed its desire for all voters in the district to be heard and believes this transition supports that intent as well as brings the system of elections into alignment with all provisions of the California Voting Rights Act. 
    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 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 district will then repeat the process in 2021 to revise boundaries based on new census data.