Overview and Updates

August 28, 2019

The Novato Unified School District announced that four trustee area maps are now available for community input.  These maps were generated by Cooperative Strategies based on community and Trustee feedback in the spring as part of the move to district elections.  They can be viewed on this webpage.

There will be opportunities for the community to provide input regarding these maps beginning with Public Hearing #3 at the next Board Meeting on September 3, 2019, which begins at 7:00 pm.

In addition, Public Input Sessions will be held at the District Office on:

September 10, 2019, 1:00-2:00 pm and again 6:00-7:00 pm

Public Hearing #4 will be held in late September or early October based upon the feedback NUSD receives in the input sessions.  Comments can also be sent to distric[email protected].

The Board of Trustees adopted a resolution to begin the process of moving from at-large elections to district elections for the 2020 election cycle at a special meeting on March 21, 2019.  Since that time, the district selected Cooperative Strategies as the demographer to help NUSD design new district trustee areas.

On May 7, 2019, Cooperative Strategies, presented the process for making this change, including suggestions for the criteria that should be used to design the new trustee areas. Additionally, at this meeting, the Trustees informed Cooperative Strategies that the demographer should not consider incumbents’ residences as a consideration in the drawing of trustee areas.

On May 21, 2019 Novato Unified School District’s Board of Trustees discussed possible criteria that the demographer, Cooperative Strategies, would consider when designing possible maps of new district trustee areas. The suggested considerations from Cooperative Strategies for the design of the trustee areas include:

  • Each area shall contain nearly equal numbers of inhabitants
  • Each area will be drawn to comply with the Federal Voting Rights Act
  • Each area will be compact and contiguous, as much as possible
  • Each area will respect communities of interest, as much as possible
  • Each area will follow man-made and natural geographic features as much as possible.
  • The Trustees agreed with these considerations and told the demographer to not consider incumbents’ residences as a criterion in the drawing of trustee areas.

Trustees also discussed additional considerations. Options to consider included:

  • Having more than one school in a given area
  • Not separating neighborhoods
  • Having majority minority areas where possible

NUSD welcomes community input.

May 1, 2019

At a Special Meeting of the Board of Trustees on March 21, 2019, the Board adopted Resolution No. 24-2018-19 to initiate the process of establishing trustee areas and elections by district to transition from at-large elections to district elections.  Trustees are currently elected in “at-large” elections, where each member is elected by voters throughout the District’s territory.  Under the new system, Trustees will be elected by trustee-area; they will be required to live in the area they represent and will be elected only by the the registered voters of that area.

The City of Novato, along with many other cities and school districts throughout California, is also going through the same process.  The shift to district elections is gaining momentum in California for several reasons.  Under state law, an at-large method of election may impair the ability of some voters to elect candidates of their choice or to influence the outcome of elections and may also be subject to a challenge under the California Voting Rights Act of 2001.  The decision to move to district elections will ensure that NUSD goes through a sound and transparent process that will take effect with the 2020 Board of Trustee elections. Please review this webpage for the most current information.

PUBLIC PROCESS FOR CREATION OF TRUSTEE AREAS

March 21, 2019 Special Board Meeting – Adopted Resolution No. 24-2018-19 to initiate the process of establishing trustee areas and elections by district to transition from at-large elections to district elections.

April 2, 2019 Board Meeting – Discussion on District Election Process.  Presentation by David Soldani, legal counsel from Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, and Rudd & Romo.

April 23, 2019 Board Meeting – Discussion on changing the number of Trustees from seven (7) to five (5).

May 7, 2019 Board Meeting – Public Hearing #1 at 7:25 pm to hear input from the community about district elections and changing trustees from seven (7) to five (5) and hear demographers initial report.

May 21, 2019 Board Meeting – Public Hearing #2 at 7:10 pm to hear input from the community about district elections and Discussion/Action on Resolution regarding the criteria to guide the creation of Trustee areas.

August 28, 2019 – District posts and distributes information on draft trustee areas maps created by demographer based on community input.

September 3, 2019 Board Meeting – Public Hearing #1 at 7:00 pm to hear input from the community on the draft trustee area maps.

September 10, 2019 – Two Public Input Sessions at the District Office (Board Room):  1-2 pm and 6-7 pm

September/October, 2019* – Public Hearing #4

October 2019* – Approve final maps.

*Dates to be determined

RESOLUTION TO TRANSITION TO TRUSTEE AREA ELECTIONS

RESOLUTION NO. 24 – 2018-2019

RESOLUTION INITIATING PROCESS OF ESTABLISHING TRUSTEE AREAS AND
ELECTIONS BY-TRUSTEE AREAS

WHEREAS, the Novato Unified School District (“District”) currently uses an at-large system of electing the members of its Board of Education; and

WHEREAS, the Board is aware that under state law an at-large method of election may be deemed to impair the ability of some voters to elect candidates of their choice or to influence the outcome of elections and, therefore, may be subject to challenge under the California Voting Rights Act of 2001, California Elections Code § 14025, et seq. (“CVRA”); and

WHEREAS, the District has decided to initiate the process of establishing trustee areas and changing the method of electing members of the Board, in order to ensure compliance with the CVRA or, at minimum, avoid the potential for costly litigation under the CVRA; and

WHEREAS, Board intends to initiate a very deliberate, careful, and public process for establishing trustee areas, and for changing the method of electing members of the Board, to take effect commencing with the November, 2020 election.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board hereby finds the foregoing recitals to be true and correct; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board directs the Superintendent or his designee to immediately initiate the legal and regulatory process to establish trustee areas within the District, as provided in Education Code section 5019, in sufficient time for trustee areas to be established for the November, 2020 election of members of the Board; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board directs the Superintendent or his designee to collaborate with a demographer, to prepare draft by-trustee area map scenarios for review and input by the Board and members of the public at upcoming meetings; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board directs the Superintendent or his designee to initiate the legal and regulatory process of changing the method of electing members of the Board, from the current at-large system whereby each member of the Board is elected by the registered voters of the entire District (Education Code section 5030(a)), to a method which provides that Board members residing in each trustee area will be elected by the registered voters of that particular trustee area (Education Code 5030(b)), in sufficient time for the new method of electing members of the Board to be in place for the November, 2020 election; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board directs the Superintendent or his designee to initiate processes for establishing trustee areas and changing the method of electing members of the Board that are inclusive, thoughtful, and public, providing for and encouraging significant input on the issues the Board and Marin County Committee on School District Organization will address from all interested citizens and interest groups; and

BE IT FURTHER AND FINALLY RESOLVED that the Superintendent or his designee is authorized to initiate the legal and regulatory process to seek a waiver from the State Board of Education, of the requirements of Education Code section 5020 and related statutes, so that action of the Marin County Committee on School District Organization establishing trustee election areas and adopting one of the alternative methods of electing Board members specified in Education Code section 5030 does not constitute an order of election.

Click here to view signed resolution.