U.S. Census data for 2010 showed the total population within in the El Tejon Unified School District increased from 6,720 in year 2000 to 8,427 in year 2010, trustees were told by Grant Herndon of Schools Legal Services last month.
Hispanic residents were the largest minority group in the district, growing from 12.2 percent of total population in 2000 to 16.47 percent in 2010. Non-Hispanic white residents accounted for 78.4 percent of total population in 2010. Black/ African-American residents accounted for 1 percent of the total population.
Trustees asked if election of trustees by regions rather than as ‘at-large’ representatives would benefit minority voters in the district.
Herndon said that no census block in the district has a Hispanic citizen voting age population exceeding 30 percent, and that it would not be possible to create a majority Hispanic citizen trustee region in the district, according to a report compiled by Audrey Weingarten, the superintendent’s administrative assistant.
Under the current at-large system, all trustees must consider the good of the entire district, Herndon said.
Trustees noted that in a small district, an at-large system allows for a larger candidate pool and each voter has an equal influence in elections and can vote for any of the candidates running.
In a ‘by-trustee area’ system, the influence of each vote may vary depending on the number of registered voters within a trustee area. Voters also get to vote on board candidates only once every four years, since they only vote for candidates running in the trustee area where the voter resides.
In an at-large system, voting for board candidates occurs every two years.
Herndon asked whether any concerns had been expressed that the at-large elector system is unfair. No demand letters have been received by the superintendent, they were told. Trustee Hurst noted that all of the district’s schools serve the entire district so, under the present system, board members must consider the entire school district in serving on the board. Trustees agreed to maintain ‘at-large’ voting at this time and to watch for further demographic changes.
This is part of the December 16, 2011 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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