Perris Board of Trustees approves people’s plan for redistricting

Residents can expect to see new faces on the Perris Union High School District Board of Trustees next year, now that a redistricting map has...

Residents can expect to see new faces on the Perris Union High School District Board of Trustees next year, now that a redistricting map has been selected.

The board unanimously approved a map Wednesday evening that will divide the district into five equal areas and transition the district from at-large to trustee area elections.

Known as Plan 1 to those who favored it throughout the district’s public outreach meetings, this map uses major thoroughfares as boundaries and creates two areas of Hispanic influence.

Out of three total maps, the Board of Trustees agreed with the public that this plan works best because of its clean lines. These boundaries preserve communities of interest and will be easier to work with when population shifts or unification occurs.

School Facilities Consultant Fred Good was pleased that the board acted quickly. Before the new election process takes place in November 2012, the plan will go through a series deliberation.

“Tonight I’m going to send the approved resolution and plan to the county,” Good explained as board members signed off on the map. “I’ll talk to the county tomorrow morning and keep it cranking.”

Once it is received, the county will hold a public hearing in January within the district to approve or disapprove the plan. This will be the final meeting for residents to attend and give their input.

Good said he wasn’t disappointed about the meager turnout at previous meetings that were held to inform the public about the district’s transition. He instead considers it a good thing.

“If people were upset about the process, they would’ve been there,” he said. “But this matters because it’s a part of the law, and the district is doing this to avoid a lawsuit.”

Attorney for the district David Soldani, who has experience with redistricting, said that low attendance is typical for these types of processes.

“It’s more important that you gave people the opportunity to know about this,” Soldani said to the board. “You’ve been involved more than any other district in the public outreach component, and this is the most transparent process I’ve seen.”

Perris Union High School District is switching to trustee areas in order to avoid potential lawsuits that have been filed against other school districts where minority voting may have been diluted by at-large elections.

The California Voting Rights Act forbids at-large elections if they purposely impair the ability of a protected class to elect candidates of its choice.

“We stood out like a sore thumb because of the Hispanic majority in our district,” said Superintendent Johnathan Greenberg.

The switch to trustee area elections will insulate the district from looming lawsuits and possibly change the racial and geographic makeup of the school board.

“This put two board members out,” said Greenberg, referring to Board President Eric Kroencke and trustee William Hulstrom, whose area will be represented by trustee Carolyn Twyman until 2014. “That was a very gutsy decision, and it draws trust from the public, I think.”

Trustee Randy Williams said he fully endorses the idea of more closely representing the people that Perris Union High School District serves.

“This’ll be well served by new faces with new ideas,” he said.