Turlock Unified School District trustees started discussing possible revisions to the trustee area map, following data presented from the 2020 census.
Every 10 years with the U.S. Census, the school district is required to evaluate boundaries for trustee areas.
“The district has an obligation every 10 years to look at these boundaries and do something that is called redistricting,” said attorney Shawn VanWagenen at Tuesday’s board of trustees meeting. “Federal laws are really focused on antidiscrimination and preventing gerrymandering, what people like to call one person one vote. What we’re really looking for is making sure the trustee areas are proportioned to the population.”
The 2020 census data revealed that there was a decrease in some areas up to four percent, but there was a larger increase in others up to five percent. Federal standards say that population differences in districts have to be within a standard deviation of 10 percent, and TUSD currently has a deviation of 9.3 percent. They are still at the threshold and can keep the maps the same, have minor adjustments or come up with new maps entirely.
Board of Trustee member Mary Jackson said she believes that the current maps are too abstract and wishes the maps “were a little bit cleaner.”
“If you live in the middle of the map, you could be in district 1,2,3 or 6. I think a lot of parents don’t really know who represents them and I would like the map to look cleaner. I think we need to keep it simple and this is a very difficult map to figure out,” she said.
VanWagenen said the district contracted demographer can work to make the districts more identifiable.
“When we look at the factors to consider, there is room for improvement and one area is identifiable boundaries,” he said.
While multiple board members wanted to see revisions of the current map, there are some advantages to keeping the maps as they are.
“The school districts currently are population balanced and the more you change your districts, the more likely you are for citizens not to vote, so there are some benefits to keeping the maps as they are,” said demographer Shalice Tilton.
The district decided to return to the topic with proposed new maps in December and January for the board and public to weigh in on. The deadline for new maps is Feb. 28.