The FJUHSD trustees held a special meeting/public forum on January 4, to decide whether to redraw the five electoral districts covering the Fullerton Joint Unified High School District area. They invited Dr. Justin Levitt of National Demographics Corporation to return and present any updated information to the 2020 Census data that he previously presented last October. The high school district has the opportunity to reevaluate FJUHSD’s election districted areas every ten years based on national census data. Dr. Levitt reported that October’s preliminary census data show a 7.2% deviation from the original demographics and is still well below the 10% deviation threshold that triggers an automatic redistricting response. After receiving no public comments and discussing the cost of redrawing the map with the low likelihood of any real changes, the Trustees voted 5-0 to maintain the current district boundaries for the next decade.
The trustees will spend less than $8,000 for basic demographer and lawyers’ fees to refile the current map with the State. The map was created in 2016 under Dr. Levitt’s guidance with multiple stakeholder input from community members, parents, and the 2016 FJUHSD Board members. It follows all the federal and state voter rights laws and each election area is directly answerable to at least two of the eight district high schools. The map reflects the district according to equity of population (not equal number of voters), including compact and contiguous districting boundaries, no racial gerrymandering, and respectful of community voting interests. The district map filing deadline is March 1 and would cost the district over $25,000 for any changes to the district boundaries. These boundaries will remain until 2032 when the 2030 census provides new data.
Separating the FJUHSD community into electoral districts potentially makes it easier for new members who reflect their community to sit on the board. The caveat to this development is that once elected, these trustees are answerable to the entire FJUHSD community. The FJUHSD open enrollment system allows any qualified residential student to attend any FJUHSD school they choose (transportation not included). This allows the district to offer more extensive academic and Career Technical Education (CTE) academy offerings throughout all school sites. The policy recognizes the fact that the district’s over 13,500 students have unique needs and allows the students to become active partners in their education while preparing for adulthood choices in vocational and higher learning.
The FJUHSD electoral map on the website looks very different from both the Fullerton city district map and the Fullerton (Elementary) School District areas. This is because the FJUHSD does not follow Fullerton’s city boundaries and includes areas of Whittier, La Habra, La Habra Heights, La Mirada, and Buena Park as well as Fullerton. Demographically, ethnic and racial communities may not be separated to split their vote (defined under gerrymandering), so Latino- and Asian-concentrated populated areas must also be considered. In the FJUHSD, three major racial/ethnic areas were identified through the census information. There are also the traditional districting principles such as communities of interest to be considered. These are areas that demographically vote in similar ways and through this data indicate similar interests. The electoral districts need to be compact and contiguous, meaning that the areas include people who see themselves as part of the same community. Factoring all the laws and community interests into account can lead to unusual bird’s eye viewed maps, but the high school district map has held up to two elections so far and will now be used for an additional decade to decide the district’s future trustees.
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