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TUSD quickens pace of district mapping for 2013 trustee elections

POSTED January 18, 2011 9:27 p.m.

The Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees laid out a timeline Tuesday night that will chart the course towards the first district elections in 2013.

The creation of district elections will mean that the seven Board of Trustee seats will be filled by candidates who reside in the specific districts, rather than at large.

The school district will use data from the 2010 census as a determinate for drawing district lines. The data is expected to be released in April.

Once a draft map is drawn up the school district will hold a public meeting to gather community input.

The board unanimously approved a motion Tuesday night to quicken the pace of mapping the seven districts so that, in part, a candidate would know in 2011 if the district would be up for re-election again in 2013.

Before the district maps are certified, they have to be approved by the educational offices of both Stanislaus and Merced counties because some of TUSD incorporates areas of Merced County. The district will also need a waiver from the State Board of Education and approval from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The move to elect trustees based on district rather than at large was proposed by the TUSD and approved by the Stanislaus County Office of Education’s committee on School District Organization by a vote of 8-0 in December.

TUSD proposed the district elections in the wake of a lawsuit filed by a civil rights group against the City of Modesto. The group claimed citywide elections disenfranchised minority voters, which is a violation of the California Voting Rights Act. Modesto settled the lawsuit after it approved district elections for its city council.

TUSD will hold its last at-large election in November of this year. In November 2013, the district will elect three trustees based on district. The remaining four seats would be up for election in 2015.

TUSD has not been the only school district to take heed of the potential for a lawsuit and take proactive steps against a lawsuit. Ceres and Gustine now also have school trustee elections by district.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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