VUSD Trustee Area Redistricting Process & Timeline
- November 9, 2021, Board Meeting presentation, including community input
- October 12, 2021, Board Meeting presentation
- VUSD Trustee Area Redistricting Informational Meetings flyer
- October 26, 2021, Board Meeting presentation, including map options
General Redistricting Information FAQs
Frequently asked questions and information regarding redistricting.
How are Visalia Unified Board of Education Trustees elected?
There are seven trustees on the Visalia Unified Board of Education. Each one represents a specific geographic area, which is called a "trustee area" or election district. Residents of each trustee area vote only for candidates who live in their area.
Candidates for each Board seat must live in the trustee area they wish to represent. This is called a by-district election system.
What is redistricting and why is it needed now?
Every 10 years, a new U.S. Census is conducted, and the population counts are then used for redistricting. Trustee areas must be relatively equal in total population using the new Census counts. After new Census data are released, all jurisdictions must evaluate whether their current trustee areas (boundaries based on the last Census) have equal populations using the new counts. If not, trustee area boundaries need to be adjusted to re-balance trustee area populations. The redistricting process is governed by the U.S. Constitution, federal law, and California law.
When will the new trustee area map be used?
The new trustee areas will be in effect for November 2022 elections. The deadline for adoption of revised districting plans (February 28, 2022) allows time for county Registrars of Voters to adjust precinct boundaries before the filing deadline for the November election.
What criteria are used to create trustee areas?
Federal and state laws require that the trustee areas be nearly equal in population using the most recent Census counts. Some deviation is permitted, but the rule of thumb is that the difference between the most- and least-populous election districts should not exceed ten percent of the "ideal" district's population, which is one third, one fifth, or one seventh of the jurisdiction's total population (depending on the number of trustee areas). We understand that courts have generally accepted this standard for population equality (in school districts).
Federal law also requires that election districts be drawn to respect protected race/ethnic groups so that their communities are neither divided nor overly concentrated in individual districts. Protected groups are race/ethnic/language groups, including Hispanics, African Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans (as well as some others).
In addition, the California Elections Code (Section 22000) lists criteria that may be considered during the redistricting (and initial districting process):
In adjusting the boundaries of the divisions, the board may consider the following factors: (1) topography, (2) geography, (3) cohesiveness, contiguity, integrity, and compactness of territory, and (4) community of interests of the division.
Who creates the maps and how can the public participate in the process?
We have hired professional demographers (SchoolWorks, Inc.) to draft and revise maps for consideration by the public and the Trustees. Revisions of these draft maps will be based on feedback received by the Trustees and from the community during the public hearings, Board meetings, community meetings, or sent to a designated staff member. Members of the public will be able to provide input about boundaries, as well as possible revisions of plans. The districting process will be transparent, and it is important that everyone will have the opportunity to suggest map revisions.
Members of the public can email Nathan Hernandez at email@example.com to provide comments about the redistricting maps, communities of interest, the process, etc. This feedback will be conveyed to the Board and our demographers.
What Are "Communities of Interest"?
Recent California legislation (for the state legislature, cities, and counties) requires that communities of interest be considered when drawing plans, and when possible, our demographers will do this, too. A community of interest is a geographical area (such as a neighborhood) that would benefit from being in the same district because of shared interests, views, or characteristics. Downtown areas, historic districts, and housing subdivisions are a few examples of areas that would be communities of interest (there are many more).
Sometimes, populations with similar demographic characteristics are considered communities of interest. These characteristics can include the population's race/ethnic composition, the language spoken at home, the area's median income (and other socioeconomic characteristics), and the type of housing (for example, those in a particular housing development or retirement community).
Defined regions like cities, school districts, and school attendance areas may sometimes be considered communities of interest. Geographic characteristics can identify communities, such as those on one side of a mountain range, highway, around a park, or another publicly-recognized region.
Has the pandemic affected the redistricting process?
Because of the COVID pandemic, the Census Bureau is about six months behind schedule in the release of redistricting data. This means that we have about half the amount of time to redistrict as we did in the past. As a result, timelines must be very short.
What data are used when drawing maps?
Plans for election district boundaries will be based on the total population counts from Census 2020, and data that comply with federal and state laws.
The 2020 Census counts will be adjusted by the California Statewide Database (SWDB), which will assign prison inmates to their pre-incarceration home addresses (the adjusted counts will be available 4-6 weeks after the Census Bureau's data release). The state legislature, county boards of supervisors, and city councils must use these adjusted numbers for redistricting. School districts are not required to use adjusted counts, so we will begin with unadjusted data and re-check when the adjusted counts are available.
When drafting plans for consideration, the demographers also use estimates of the Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP, citizens 18+, by race/ethnicity) from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, (ACS) to check for Federal Voting Rights Act compliance. Estimates from the ACS survey are also used to help identify communities of interest.
Who decides which map to adopt?
The Board of Trustees will adopt an ordinance establishing election district boundaries by February 28, 2022. The county Registrars of Voters will then adjust precinct boundaries before the filing deadline for the November 2022 trustee election.
When will the process begin and end?
Information about the redistricting process and timeline was provided to the Board and community at the October 12, 2021, VUSD Board meeting. One or more draft plans will be provided by our demographers in late October. Members of the public are encouraged to provide comments about the draft map(s) and/or indicate other ways they suggest trustee areas be drawn. The Board will consider adoption of the preliminary map(s) at the December 14, 2021, Board meeting. The Board has until February 28, 2022, to complete the redistricting process if additional time is needed.
How long will the boundaries be in place?
By law, election district boundaries must be evaluated after each decennial census. The 2030 U.S. Census redistricting population counts will be released in 2031. If the trustee areas adopted in 2022 still have equal total population counts, the boundaries will not need to be adjusted. If the total populations are not equally distributed, the trustee area boundaries will need to be adjusted so that the 2030 population is distributed evenly in the three, five, or seven trustee areas.
May redistricting plans respect incumbency so that there is only one governing board member in each election district
Avoidance of head-to-head contests between incumbents is permitted, but only after criteria prescribed by federal and state law are met. Boundaries that take incumbency into account still must be reasonable.
What will happen to current members of the Board of Trustees if election district boundaries change?
Current Board Members will continue in office until the expiration of their terms and their successors are elected. The first elections using the new boundaries will be in November 2022. Because Board elections are staggered (some trustees elected in 2022 and the rest elected in November 2024), the new plan will be completely implemented in 2024. If current Trustees' terms end in 2024, they will continue to sit on the Board until the 2024 election, even if they live in the same election district as a Board member elected in 2022.
What is the California Fair Maps Act of 2019 and does it apply to our District?
The California Fair Maps Act of 2019 (AB 849) applies to cities and counties, but not to school districts and special districts. However, VUSD might use some of these guidelines when it is reasonable to do so. The Fair Maps Act lists the following criteria, in order of priority, that cities and counties should (or should not) use during plan drawing, after federal legal requirements are met:
- Geographic contiguity
- Communities of interest are respected.
- Other governmental boundaries (e.g., cities, feeder school districts, established neighborhoods) may be used for election district boundaries.
- Boundaries are easily identifiable and understandable.
- Geographic compactness
- Political parties are not to be considered.
- There is no specific mention of incumbency, except that incumbency is not a community of interest.