A decision by the Riverbank Unified School District Board of Trustees recently saw them vote to move away from at-large school board elections toward trustee area elections. In an attempt to avoid potential legal costs and in order to ensure voter representation equity, the board of trustees voluntarily decided to move toward the trustee area elections and also expressed a desire to move toward even year elections.
The Riverbank Unified School District encourages community members to participate in the process of moving to trustee-area elections. A tentative timeline has been developed to transition to the new system. The district has contracted with demographer Doug Johnson from the National Demographics Corporation (NDC) to provide the school board with various trustee area options.
Johnson was slated to share various options with board members at their meeting on Tuesday, May 7, after The News went to press.
As a follow up to that meeting with the board, school officials will also host an informal community meeting to discuss the various options on Wednesday, May 15 at 5:30 p.m. in the multi-purpose room at Adelante High School (next to the district office). A public hearing will be held during the school board meeting on Tuesday, May 21 at 5:30 p.m. to take additional comments about the proposal.
Board members anticipate adoption of one of the plans offered by the demographer at the board meeting on Thursday, June 13 at 5:30 p.m.
The transition to trustee area elections will also involve two other agencies. The district will need to seek approval from the Stanislaus County Committee. Prior to approving the District’s plan, the County Committee will need to hold a public hearing within the District’s boundaries. Additionally, the State Board of Education will consider waiving having to seek voter approval for the change.
Riverbank Unified joins several California school districts in moving to trustee area elections. The impetus to move away from at-large elections for school districts and some cities is the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) that was enacted in 2002. The CVRA authorizes voters of any race the right to sue for an alternate election system, usually requiring the agency to change from at-large elections to trustee area elections. The CVRA is intended to provide more protection and representation for underrepresented minority groups.