County committee to select from three San Dieguito map options this week
Since taking over the redistricting process from the San Dieguito Union High School District, the San Diego County Office of Education’s County Committee on School District Organization is preparing to pick one of three new adjusted trustee area maps.
The maps were presented for public input at an April 13 hearing. San Diego County Board of Education President Rick Shea said they provided an opportunity for San Dieguito to present at the meeting but they declined.
The committee is expected to select a new map at a meeting on Wednesday, April 20 at 6 p.m. at Sunset High School. The meeting will be held in a hybrid format, in-person with a live-stream webcast.
The San Dieguito board has its regularly scheduled board meeting that day as well, starting at 3 p.m.
The purpose of the redistricting process is to adjust the district’s trustee area election map using new data from the 2020 census, recognizing population growth and creating a balance among the boundary areas without splitting up a protected class.
The SDCOE board tapped Arc Bridge Consulting, based in Virginia, to draft the three maps for consideration.
Priti Mathur, Arc Bridge principal, said they conducted an independent and nonpartisan process, drawing the maps in compliance with the California Voting Rights Act and taking consideration of communities of interest, minority representation, feeder school districts, continuity in election cycles and attempting to keep a middle school and high school in each area.
As the district’s existing map was out of compliance with a total population variance of 27.9%, the goal was to have a variance below 10%.
Arc Bridge’s three proposed maps have as equal population among the areas as possible: “Every map we tried to do a little bit better,” Mathur said. Map A has a variance of 3.76%, map B’s is .98% and map C is the lowest at .30%
The initial three maps submitted by San Dieguito’s demographer Cooperative Strategies had similarly low deviations. The district’s approved map 8 has a variance of 5.9%, the ninth highest variance of the 12 maps the board considered.
All three options before the SDCOE board retain the numbers of the areas and election cycles—San Dieguito’s adopted map changed the numbers and displaced trustees from their existing areas and left one area without representation. The adopted map also disqualified Trustee Melisse Mossy from running in the next election but she resigned from the board on April 12.
During public comment, community members said they were happy to see that all three maps keep Solana Beach together rather than split between three areas in the board’s adopted map.
Several speakers said they would be ok with not having a high school in an area if it meant better keeping communities together. In Map A, Area 3 does not have a high school, only Earl Warren Middle School. In San Dieguito’s approved map, Area 3 also does not include a high school; it includes both Earl Warren and Carmel Valley Middle School.
Many speakers also expressed gratitude for the county taking over the process from the school board.
Christopher Black, a resident, district teacher of 25 years and father to three future SDUHSD students, said he was feeling good about the process now that it was in the SDCOE board’s hands and complimented their professionalism, transparency and straightforward approach.
“My proud and high-performing district used to conduct its own business this way but in recent years has become unrecognizable to many of us longtime educators from a decorum standpoint, a professionalism standpoint, just a common decency standpoint,” Black said. “Those like me who love our district so much hope that this is merely a fleeting phase. I feel like right now with this process I can see a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not an oncoming train.”
The committee did not discuss the maps in detail at the meeting. Before making a decision on April 20, board member Gregg Robinson asked to receive demographic information that represented the minority groups and voting age populations of each trustee area, being mindful of the higher Latino/Hispanic populations in Encinitas around San Dieguito Academy and Solana Beach, as well as the Asian American population in the southern part of the district.
SDUHSD trustees Katrina Young and Julie Bronstein have supported the idea of the county taking over the redistricting process—each made motions for the county takeover at the Feb. 17 and the March 30 meetings, both failed to pass in 3-2 votes.
In an April 6 letter to the county committee Superintendent Cheryl James-Ward argued that the justification for the county taking over the map process, that public hearing standards were not met prior to the board’s submission of its map, was inaccurate. Her letter also stated that she does not believe the county’s process has been transparent or straightforward.
She wrote that although the county committee was aware that the district had gone through a process and selected a map, the district was given no notice of the April 4 meeting in which they voted to take over. James-Ward said it was the district’s understanding that the agenda was posted late Saturday evening on April 2 and the meeting took place at 8 a.m. on Monday, April 4.
“The county did not notify me as the superintendent or our board president or vice president of this meeting, despite knowing that the county was going to be potentially taking action to override the actions of the district trustees,” James-Ward wrote.
A lawsuit is also pending against the district’s map selection.
To check out the maps, visit sdcoe.net/sandieguitoupdates.
2:16 p.m. April 22, 2022: The April 20 meeting was canceled due to a lack of quorum. It has not yet been rescheduled.
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