Transition to By-Trustee Area Elections

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Background

The Natomas Unified School District, like many other cities and school districts in the state, is in the process of changing how members of the Board of Education are elected to office.  Last December, the Natomas Unified Board of Trustees directed staff to begin the process of moving Natomas Unified (NUSD) from at-large elections to by-trustee area elections.  The district hires an outside demographer to help us during this process.  The information below, including the timeline, will help you understand the process in more detail. 

At-Large vs. By-Trustee Area

Since its unification, the five (5) board members in Natomas Unified are elected by all of the voters in the district. This is known as an ‘at-large’ election. When there are multiple board seats up for election, voters choose multiple candidates from those who are running when they complete their ballot.

When elections are held through ‘by-trustee areas,’ the district is divided into smaller areas and candidates for the board seat representing that district area must reside in that specific district area. Voters select one candidate from those who are running to represent their area of the district and do not vote on the seats representing other areas of the district.

At the January 20, 2021 Board Meeting, the Board approved a resolution (“letter of intent”) 5-0 to direct staff to lead the school district to the change from at-large elections to by-trustee area elections.  Trustee areas will include five (5) areas that make sure the 5 areas are each represented by an elected NUSD Trustee who will live within a specific Trustee Area.  Below is a graphic that helps explain the transition.

At-Large vs. By-Trustee Area

Determining Trustee Areas

Trustee areas must be roughly the same size in terms of the number of residents. Using the latest Census data available, a demographer generates maps that balance the size of each area along with requirements to ensure protected classes of voters are not divided in a manner that would make it more difficult for them to elect candidates of their choice or influence the outcome of an election. The demographer may also take into consideration local conditions such as major roadways, natural barriers, and other factors.

Trustee Area Map Options

The district’s demographer will generate maps after the September 1, 2021 regular board meeting. The draft maps will be published no later than October 20 for public review and input.
If the board requests revisions to the initial maps, those revisions will be published no later than November 10 for public review and input.

Sharing Your Voice

There have been, and will continue to be, multiple opportunities and ways for members of the community to share their feedback throughout this process.

In December 2020 the NUSD Board of Trustees received a presentation from legal counsel on the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) and unanimously approved the next steps of adopting a “letter of intent” to begin the transition process.  The letter of intent (a resolution) was adopted at the January 20, 2021 regular board meeting.

During the summer of 2021 the district launched two surveys to the Natomas community, and will be meeting with various stakeholder groups throughout the month of August.  These opportunities will allow stakeholders to learn more about the process and provide feedback that can be shared with the board and/or demographer for their consideration.

Beginning in October draft maps will be available.  The Board of Trustees will hold public hearings during the regular board meetings on October 27, November 17, and December 14, 2021.Members of the public may attend Board meetings in person, watch our live stream, or watch the recorded Board Meeting(s) at their convenience starting the day after each meeting.  The live stream and board meeting recordings can be accessed here.  Any member of the public may offer up to two minutes of public comment at these meetings or submit an eComment to [email protected].

Please see the timeline below for more information.

Map of the Natomas Unified School District

In response to some community feedback, to the left is a current map of Natomas Unified’s district boundaries, which also shows the location of each school site. Please click the image to enlarge the map.

Timeline

The timeline for transition was publicly shared at the July 21, 2021 board meeting.  Members of the public may attend Board meetings in person, watch our live stream, or watch the recorded Board Meeting(s) at their convenience starting the day after each meeting.  The live stream and board meeting recordings can be accessed here.

Date

Action

December 16, 2020
(Regular Board Meeting)

Presentation on the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) and Board approval on next steps

Click here to view the presentation

  • Livestream Views: 84
  • Recorded Meeting Views: 133

January 20, 2021
(Regular Board Meeting)

Board adopted Resolution 21-03 of intent to initiate transition from at-large to by-trustee area elections beginning with the 2022 governing board election

  • Livestream Views: 106
  • Recorded Meeting Views: 143

July 14, 2021

Launched a survey to the Natomas community to gather initial input on this transition. The questions were a combination of multiple choice and short answer questions.

    • 173 surveys were submitted, and 83.5% of NUSD stakeholders who responded stated that Trustee areas are of medium importance to very important.  57.3% stated that this is important or very important. Click here to review the feedback from this survey.

July 21, 2021
(Regular Board Meeting)

Present timeline for transition to by-trustee area elections
Click here to view the presentation

  • Livestream Views: 57
  • Recorded Meeting Views: 21

July 26, 2021

Launched a second community survey to gather input about the possibility of NUSD seeking a waiver from the State Board of Education.

  • Over 2,300 responses were received, and 78.7% of responses indicated they wanted the district to seek a waiver, as opposed to having a special election.  

August 4, 2021
(Regular Board Meeting)

  • Demographer presents on map development process, criteria, etc.
  • Pre-map public hearing #1

Click here to view the presentation

  • Livestream Views: 31
  • Recorded Meeting Views: 19

August 5 – August 31, 2021

District meets with stakeholders

  • Associations – CSEA & NTA  – August 16, 2021
  • Charter Leaders – August 16, 2021
  • District English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC) – August 19, 2021 at 4:00 p.m.
  • Community Advisory Council (CAC) – August 23, 2021 at 3:30 p.m.
  • Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Council – August 25, 2021 
  • Natomas Chamber of Commerce – August 25, 2021 at 12:00 p.m.
  • Natomas Schools Foundation – August 25, 2021 at 12:00 p.m.

Estimate – Late August 2021

Federal census data received by the State of California

September 1, 2021
(Regular Board Meeting)

  • Pre-map public hearing #2

October 27, 2021
(Regular Board Meeting)

  • Demographer presents proposed maps
  • Map review public hearing #1

November 17, 2021
(Regular Board Meeting)

  • Demographer presents proposed maps
  • Map review public hearing #2

December 14, 2022
(Regular Board Meeting)

Public hearing and adopt Final resolution 

January/February 2022
(Dates contingent on County Committee’s availability to meet)

County Committee hearing and action in regards to district’s proposal

November 2022

Elections for trustee area seats by trustee-area

November 2024

Elections for remaining trustee-area seats by trustee-area

Have questions about NUSD’s transition to by-trustee area elections? Please email us at [email protected].