The Clovis Unified School Board will hold the first in a series of public hearings to determine how trustees will be elected — and by whom.
The School Board declared in an Aug. 2 vote its intention to transition from electing trustees at large by all district voters to by-area elections. In by-area elections, voters in specific areas determine who represents them on the School Board. Up to now, the trustees have been elected to specific trustee areas but needed to win the majority of votes cast districtwide.
Clovis Unified is one of the state’s larger school districts still electing trustees at large, which critics say can dilute minority representation. The district received a letter in June from a Santa Monica law firm urging trustees to transition to the new method of voting or face legal consequences.
The firm, Shenkman and Hughes, has a long history of suing cities and school districts that use at-large elections.
The district said that it had begun the process of transitioning its trustee elections in 2021, but the process was delayed by the pandemic.
First Opportunity for Public Comment
A public hearing scheduled for no earlier than 6:45 p.m. Wednesday will be the first opportunity for Clovis Unified residents to weigh in on how the trustee area maps should be drawn. Under state Election Code, at least two public hearings must be held before the district prepares draft maps of the trustee areas.
During the public session of the board meeting scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m., the trustees will vote on establishing a schedule of public hearings, including Wednesday’s public hearing. Under the proposed schedule, the trustees would hold the second public hearing on Sept. 6.
At the third and fourth public hearings on Sept. 20 and Oct. 4, residents will have the opportunity to comment on draft maps.
Public hearing No. 5, scheduled for Oct. 18, would focus on whether trustees should approve a resolution establishing area-based elections.
Later in November or December, the Fresno County Committee on School District Organization would hold a public hearing on the proposed maps and then vote on whether to approve the proposal.
Under that time schedule, any changes to how trustees are elected would be in place prior to the 2024 elections, when Areas 2, 4, 5, and 7 will be up for election. The seats are currently held by David DeFrank, Hugh Awtrey, Steven Fogg, and Yolanda Moore, respectively. Moore is the board’s only person of color.
Wednesday’s public hearing and board meeting will be in the board room at 1680 David E. Cook Way in Clovis.