Kingsburg Elementary Approves Election Boundaries
From Kingsburg Recorder Staff report dated 9/21/2011
The Kingsburg Elementary school board has OK'd a plan that will fundamentally change how local voters select school board members. The board is dropping at-large elections and switching to district elections. The first scheduled election under the new system will be in 2012. The school board approved the new district boundaries on Sept. 12. The same change is occurring throughout the San Joaquin Valley. At-large elections have worked this way: Candidates could live anywhere in the elementary district and district voters could pick from all candidates. The switch means this: The elementary district is now divided into five smaller election districts. Candidates must live in the election district they want to represent on the elementary board; voters will choose only among candidates who live in the voters' election districts.
Each of the five new election districts is home to a different incumbent school board member. That means none of the current board members will have to run against one another.
Two of the five board members, Connie Lunde and Frank Yanes, are up for re-election in 2012. The other three board members, Ed Ezaki, Larry Lungren and Frank Warren, will be up for re-election in 2014.
Some people argue that at-large elections keep racial and ethnic minorities from winning seats on school boards and other local boards. Others disagree, saying that anyone can run for boards and that at-large elections keep communities unified.
Advocates for district elections have filed several lawsuits in the San Joaquin Valley to stop at-large voting. The advocates did not sue the Kingsburg Elementary school district.
Such lawsuits can prove expensive for school boards or city councils, and furthermore, recent laws favor district elections.
"Any district that resists finds itself under great scrutiny and facing potential legal settlements," said Superintendent Mark Ford of the elementary district. "The districts that are proactive in trying to meet the requirements of the law generally don't find themselves encumbered by lawsuits."
The Kingsburg district paid a company to analyze demographics in the elementary district and to draw the boundaries. Ford estimated that the district paid under $5,000 to the company, which presented the school board with several options for district boundaries.