Transition to By-Trustee Area Election
In September 2017, the Rowland Unified School District (RUSD) Board of Trustees adopted Resolution #SO-17-18:01 declaring its intent to transition from at-large to by-trustee area Board elections, where each Board member must reside within the designated trustee-area boundary, and is elected only by the voters in that trustee area. Under the by-trustee area system, voters would only vote for one seat on the school board.
Pursuant to Education Code section 35012, the RUSD Board of Education is currently elected under an at-large election system, where trustees are elected by voters in the entire District. Trustees are elected in even-number years and serve staggered, four-year terms, such that the next election for the two trustee seats is scheduled for November 2020, with the remaining trustee seats scheduled for election in November 2022.
Under the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA), at-large elections are impermissible if they result in racially polarized voting. Racially polarized voting is defined as "voting in which there is a difference... in the choice of candidates or other electoral choices that are preferred by voters in a protected class, and in the choice of candidates and electoral choices that are preferred by voters in the rest of the electorate."
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 trustee-area elections to minimize the potential for impermissible racially-polarized voting.
Starting October 10, 2019, the Rowland Unified School District Board of Education will hold the first of four required public hearings, as well as additional community meetings, to discuss transitioning from an at-large to by-trustee area Board elections.
Under the current “at-large” system, all registered voters within the District’s boundaries are able to vote for candidates for all open Board member seats. Under the new proposed system, as required by the California Voting Rights Act, candidates will be elected by “trustee areas”. This means that only voters within a given trustee area can vote for candidates who reside within that same area. Each Board member (trustee) must reside within the designated trustee-area boundary, and is elected only by the voters in that trustee area. Under the by-trustee area system, voters would only vote for one seat on the school board if that seat is open during the election year.
It is the intent of the Board of Education to have By-Trustee area voting in place for the 2020 General Election on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.