AUHSD considering Districting issue

From The OC Register:

Voters in the Anaheim Union High School District could soon choose their school board members by district rather than by at-large.

Right now, members of the Board of Trustees are voted on by the entire district's electorate and do not represent any particular area within the district. Should the board decide to switch, it would establish trustee areas that are represented by a board member, who would be voted on by people within that area.

AUHSD board member Al Jabbar

AUHSD board member Al Jabbar

Anaheim Union is the fourth-largest school district in the county, with 32,000-plus students. It covers 46 square miles and includes portions of Anaheim, Cypress, Buena Park, La Palma and Stanton.

Of the five board members, three live in Anaheim, while the other two live in La Palma and Cypress.

The district began examining the possibility of changing the election process at the end of last year at the request of a community member, said board President Brian O'Neal. At its last meeting, the board hired a demographer to look at voting patterns within the district.

The demographer's study should come back to the board within a couple of months. Then, the district could decide to pursue changing how elections are conducted.

"I think we're open to the idea," O'Neal said. "In all instances like this, I think we have an open mind."

Board by-laws say the decision to change elections could be the board's alone or could be sent to the voters, depending on what the board thinks is best, O'Neal said.


The district's discussion mirrors one continuing for the city of Anaheim elections: A Citizens Advisory Committee is studying whether to recommend that city elections go from at-large to districts in an effort to gain more Latino representation. More than 50 percent of the city's population is Latino but there are no Latino City Council members.

Members of the League of United Latin American Citizens have asked the school board to consider switching to districts so that minorities have a better chance of being represented, said Art Montez, a member of LULAC and a former member of the Centralia School District Board of Trustees.

More than 40 languages are spoken within the school district, and more than 80 percent of students in the district have an ethnicity other than white, according to the district's website. But, Montez said, that diversity is not apparent on the school board.

The Anaheim Union has a white majority.

"The only way to curtail a lot of that is to get districts down to a small size, so that people have the ability to run no matter what their economic status is," Montez said. "We're asking the board to do the right thing."