Resolution No. 15057: Governing Board of Imperial Community College District Requesting the Establishment of Trustee Areas
Motion by Rudy Cardenas, second by Louis Wong. Final Resolution: Motion Carries Yes: Rudy Cardenas, Jerry Hart, Romualdo Medina, Norma Sierra Galindo, Karla Sigmond, Steve Taylor, Louis Wong
WHEREAS, California Education Code sections 5019(a), and 5019(c)(l) and 5030 authorize the Imperial County Committee on School District Organization ("County Committee"), upon application of a district's governing board, to change the method of election in a community college district under its jurisdiction; and
WHEREAS, members of the Board of Trustees of the Imperial Valley College District ("District") are currently elected in "at-large" elections, i.e., elections in which "each governing board member [is] elected by the registered voters of the entire school district" [Education Code section 5030(a)]; and
WHEREAS, the at-large system has, over the years, resulted in the election of a diverse membership to the Board in fair and open elections, and no one has demanded that the District change its method of election; and
WHEREAS, it is, however, the considered view of the Board of Trustees that starting with the 2012 board elections and with the benefit of the 2010 census data, the public interest would be better served by election of its governing board members in "by-trustee area" elections, i.e., elections in which "one or more members residing in each trustee area [is] elected by the registered voters of that particular trustee area" [Education Code section 5030(b)]; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees believes that "by-trustee area" elections would enhance the ability for a greater number of candidates to run for seats on the Board by eliminating the costs associated with running for election district-wide; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees believes that "by-trustee area" elections would make it easier for trustees to get to know their constituents and for constituents to get to know their trustees; and
WHEREAS, additionally, "at-large" electoral systems like the one currently used by the District are subject to challenge under the California Voting Rights Act ("CVRA"), Elections Code sections 14025-14032; and
WHEREAS, the District does not wish to risk costly litigation; and
WHEREAS, a successful plaintiff under the CVRA will typically be entitled to reasonable attorneys'fees, creating great financial risk to any jurisdiction sued; and
WHEREAS, jurisdictions sued under the CVRA have been forced to pay high attorneys'fees claims to plaintiffs'counsel, as well as paying their own attorneys; and
WHEREAS, data from the Federal 2010 Census is available and may permit trustee areas to be drawn and implemented, using the most up-to-date demographic data available, for the Board's 2012 Board elections; and
WHEREAS, although Education Code section 5020 normally requires a County Committee's resolution approving a change in the method of electing board members to be submitted to the electorate for its approval at the District's next regular election, the Board of Trustees intends to seek a waiver of the voter approval requirement if permitted and allowable by law; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees believes that it is appropriate to seek a waiver of the election requirement in Education Code section 5020, and portions of sections 5019, 5021 and 5030, in time to implement by-trustee area elections for the Board's 2012 election, because an election to approve the change in voting methods will result in a cost to the District and uncertainty as to outcome despite the fact that at-large electoral systems such as the District's are subject to challenge under the CVRA at great financial risk to the District; and
WHEREAS, the adoption of by-trustee area elections will not affect the terms of any sitting Trustee, each of which will serve out his or her current term; and
WHEREAS, the Board, cognizant of its reduced operating revenues and need for fiscal responsibility, desires to implement this change in the manner of electing board members in the most cost effective and efficient manner.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED as follows:
- The above recitals are true and correct.
- The Board hereby determines that the trustee area boundary lines shall be developed to provide for elections by-trustee areas for its elections in 2012.
- By this resolution, and pursuant to Education Code sections 5019(a) and 5030, the Board of Trustees applies to the Imperial County Committee on School District Organization to have the County Committee adopt a change in the method of electing members of the Board from "at-large elections" [Education Code section 5030(a)] to "by-trustee elections" [Education Code section 5030(b)] for its elections in 2012.
- Before submitting a specific proposal for a trustee area plan using the 2010 census data, one or more public hearings shall be scheduled to obtain additional public input on such proposals.
- The Board shall apply to the Imperial County Committee for establishment of trustee areas pursuant to Education Code section 5019(a) in a timely manner to have the 2012 elections for the Board conducted within the new trustee areas.
- The District Superintendent shall send a copy of this Resolution to the County Committee for action in accordance with law.
- The District Superintendent is hereby directed to work with legal counsel to prepare an additional resolution from this Board and to implement the applicable legal requirements in a timely manner to seek a waiver from the State Board of Education of the election requirement imposed by the Education Code.
- The District Superintendent shall consult with legal counsel to resolve all legal issues necessary to give effect to this Resolution. The Superintendent/President is authorized to direct the formation of a community committee consisting of two members from each of the area Districts, for purposes of eliciting and considering public input.
- This Resolution shall take effect from and after its adoption.