The Gilroy Unified School District last week announced that electing board members in the November 2020 elections will be much different this year.
The Gilroy Unified Board of Trustees will be by trustee area instead of the current at-large citywide elections, which allows voters the ability to vote for all board seats.
Alvaro Meza, assistant superintendent of business services and chief business official for Gilroy Unified, said the new form of representation will bring the district into compliance with the California Voting Rights Act.
“The idea is that you have representation for minorities, which we already have on the board, but more so from a geographical area that may have not been in existence in the past or even now,” he said.
The change in the election system will have no effect on school attendance boundaries. Each board member will fulfill their current term.
Board President Mark Good along with board members BC Doyle and James Pace will end their terms this year.
Board Vice President Anisha Munshi, Enrique Diaz, Tuyen Fiack and Linda Piceno will begin the new cycle starting in 2022.
Dr. Deborah Flores, superintendent at Gilroy Unified, said in an email that she supports the conversion.
“We are hopeful that converting to ‘by trustee area’ elections will lead to better representation of all neighborhoods in Gilroy, some of which have never had representation on the school board before,” Flores said.
Flores said she encourages residents of Gilroy to visit the district’s website to provide input about where the neighborhood lines should be drawn.
The primary goal when drawing board election districts is to draw lines that keep neighborhoods together.
Gilroy Unified is providing paper maps with a Microsoft Excel Supplement Kit on the district’s website at www.gilroyunified.org. Maps can be submitted to [email protected] by no later than April 13.
In February, Gilroy Unified received an inquiry letter from a member of the public and it came to the attention of the governing board.
Meza said there hasn’t been an interest by the public or the Board of Trustees to transition until now.
“When that became a known issue the board discussed it in February and then it was all hands on deck,” he said.
Meza said the Gilroy Unified boundaries will be split into seven equal parts in terms of population.
After the maps are submitted the district’s demographic consultants will generate the population and other demographic details.
The initial drafts will be released April 16 and posted on the district’s website.
That’ll be followed up by two public hearings on April 23 and May 7, which are scheduled to discuss the drafts.
“What works, what didn’t work, what did we miss,” Meza said.
The board will vote on an approval of the map either May 7 or in a meeting set in June. Once that’s set, the map will go to the County of Santa Clara Registrar of Voters.
Meza spearheaded the project, engaging with consultants in a short span and making sure this impacts the November 2020 election.
“It’s a very condensed time frame that we’re following up,” Meza said.
He also mentioned they’ve been impacted with the inability to have usual board meetings due to the shelter-in-place order issued by the Santa Clara County Health Department.
The project continues to roll but Meza said it hasn’t been a smooth process. They’ve had special board meetings to accommodate the timeline.
“If we delay anything this doesn’t happen in November 2020,” Meza said.
Meza said public input has been limited but they’ve been doing the best they can to get as much information posted on the web.
He also noted that the Census 2020 will revamp the population and this exact process will be reanalyzed with the new data.
“We think that this is a good start but by no means is it going to be considered done,” Meza said.