The Yuba City Unified School District Governing Board is considering changing its district’s elections from an at-large system to trustee areas.
The district plans to discuss and consider the change at next month’s board meeting (March 10 starting at 7 p.m.).
“The board wanted to ensure that they were in compliance with the (California Voting Rights Act) and to ensure that the trustee areas were fair, equitable and included all voters,” said YCUSD Superintendent Doreen Osumi.
At-large elections that dilute the influence of minority voters within a broad election territory is illegal under the California Voting Rights Act, which took effect in 2003. Since then, more than 250 public entities throughout the state have moved away from at-large elections and transitioned to trustee-area voting.
Lawsuits have expedited the shift. Cities and other entities that have tried to fight it in court have been on the losing side. In 2008, Modesto had to pay $3 million after settling a CVRA lawsuit. In 2015, the city of Palmdale racked up $4.5 million in legal fees fighting a CVRA lawsuit.
YCUSD said they are not aware of one city or public agency that has won a CVRA lawsuit.
The district encourages residents, businesses, community groups and others to attend the March meeting to learn more about the process.
If the board does move forward with the proposal, the district said it would hold a series of public hearings to gather public feedback. The public would have an opportunity during those sessions to provide input on the concept of the change, as well as on district boundaries and other details of the process.
“The district looks forward to hearing from our community during this process,” Osumi said.