A New Way to Select our Board of Trustees
Based on feedback from our public hearings on September 9 and 23, a professional demographer has created draft maps to be reviewed for further input on whether the map reflects the community’s preferences.
Review the maps and provide your feedback now on our Trustee Area Boundary Maps webpage.
Santa Clara Unified School District invites you and encourages your participation in an important process. The district is transitioning to a new election system to select the members of the Board of Trustees.
The district will be divided into trustee areas and one governing board member will be elected by the registered voters in that particular trustee area. Therefore, voters will decide only between candidates that live in their own area. Adhering to California’s laws (the California Voting Rights Act, known as CVRA), our district is embarking on a process to establish a map of the specific areas for each trustee position available on the Board of Trustees. The concept is simple: each area elects one trustee. Under the new system, candidates will be elected by equally populated “trustee areas.”
This new system is known as “by-trustee area voting.” The intent of this proposed system is to offer greater opportunities for Board representation for candidates that might not otherwise be elected under the current election method. The system we have in place right now is called “at-large” and allows every resident within the district’s boundaries to vote to elect all trustees.
With the new election method, a key component is the drawing of the map with boundary lines for each geographic area, since voters will only decide on the Trustee that corresponds to the area where they reside.
At SCUSD we value and promote the participation of our community. It is crucial to know that the transition to the “by-trustee” area election system will involve input from our school community, with public hearings on proposed trustee area boundaries (or maps), prior to asking the Santa Clara County Committee on School District Organization to approve the change.
SCUSD has planned public hearings for the next four months, with the expectation of feedback from stakeholders. These are meaningful opportunities to let your voice be heard.
SCUSD encourages your participation in community meetings to provide input, ask questions, and be more involved in the process to draw maps for the transition to the new “By-Trustee" Area Elections.
October 20, 2021 | 6 p.m. | Dolores Huerta Middle School
November 8, 2021 | 6 p.m. | Peterson Middle School
November 15, 2021 | 6 p.m. | Cabrillo Middle School
November 17, 2021 | 4 p.m. | Virtual Meeting
November 30, 2021 | 6 p.m. | Buchser Middle School
Before Creation of Map Options
Before the maps are created by a professional demographer, the Board will host two hearings where the community is invited to provide input on the potential composition of trustee areas. The “pre-map” public hearings will occur during regularly scheduled Board meetings on September 9 and September 23. We look forward to your participation at those hearings.
After Creation of Map Options
Following the “pre-map” public hearings and following the full release of the 2020 Census data, the proposed maps will be created by a demographer and shared on the District’s website, www.santaclarausd.org.
Once the draft maps are created, the Board will host an additional series of public hearings. These map public hearings will occur during regularly scheduled Board meetings on October 28, November 18, and December 9. The community will have opportunity to review and provide feedback on whether the map reflects the community’s preferences.
At the December 9 meeting, the Board will then vote to approve of one of the trustee area maps for the District. Again, SCUSD encourages your participation at these meetings.
** The Board of Trustees vote on “by-trustee area” boundaries will immediately follow the third post-map release Public Hearing on December 9, 2021.
You are invited to attend all the meetings. If you cannot attend a hearing or meeting and wish to comment regarding potential trustee areas, as well as on the proposed “trustee area” maps, we encourage you to submit your comments and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To stay informed throughout the process, please check this webpage periodically for updates.
Please find below a list of answers to common questions about by-trustee area elections.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD) is transitioning from at-large elections to “by-trustee” area elections.
What is an at-large election?
Currently, SCUSD’s Board of Trustees is elected via an at-large election where every voter living within the SCUSD boundary lines can vote for all members of the Board of Trustees.
What is a by-trustee area election?
A by-trustee area election divides the district into geographic, equally populated areas. Each voter will have the opportunity to choose a representative that lives in the same area they reside in.
What is CVRA?
Senate Bill 976, also known as the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (CVRA), signed into law in 2002, prohibits the use of any election system “that impairs the ability of a protected class to elect candidates of its choice or its ability to influence the outcome of an election.” Jurisdictions can be sued if they elect their governing body using an “at-large” election system. If the court finds against a jurisdiction, the jurisdiction must change its election system to a “by-trustee area” election system and pay the plaintiff’s attorneys, experts, and other expenses. Jurisdictions that fought CVRA claims have paid settlement or judgment amounts ranging from $3,000 to over $4 million.
Why Transition to By-Trustee Area Elections?
While the district does not believe that its current form of elections violates the CVRA, it does believe that it is in the public interest to begin the process to transition from at-large to by-trustee area elections to minimize the future potential for impermissible racially-polarized voting or legal claims. The only election system that provides Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD) complete protection from a CVRA legal claim is a by-trustee area election system.
How will this change impact me?
The intent of this proposed system (by-trustee area voting) is to offer greater opportunities for Board representation for candidates that might not otherwise be elected under the at-large election method. Under a by-trustee area election model, your community will have an increased possibility of electing a representative that also resides in your area.
How can I participate in the process?
SCUSD will be holding public hearings where you can share your feedback with the Board of Trustees. The hearings will take place on:
Public Hearings — Before Creation of Map Options
Community to provide input about the new boundary lines for each area.
Public Hearings — After Creation of Map Options
Community to review and provide feedback on whether the map reflects the community’s preferences.
What criteria will be considered to determine areas?
A demographer will evaluate different factors, such as communities of interest and ensuring that each district is equally populated.
How can I stay connected to the process?
To stay connected to the process, SCUSD will be providing updated information on social media platforms and the district’s website.