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Two Maps Under Consideration for Clovis Unified Trustee Area Elections
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Published 9 months ago on
September 19, 2023

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Two proposed maps outlining the Clovis Unified trustee areas for next year’s elections have been submitted for consideration and will be reviewed Wednesday at a public hearing during the School Board meeting.

One is being presented by the district and uses the current trustee area boundaries, while the other would shift a huge portion of the northeast portion of the district that’s now in the unincorporated county from Area 2 to Area 4. Map 201 also would move part of Area 1 into Area 2, shift Area 5 eastward, and would square off most boundary lines.

Clovis Unified is switching to electing trustees by specific areas instead of at-large in time for the 2024 elections. It had received a letter this summer from a law firm warning that if it continued to elect trustees at large it could face a civil lawsuit for violating the California Voting Rights Act. But district officials said plans were already underway to transition to by-area elections before the letter arrived.

Voting rights advocates consider by-area elections important for minority representation on elected bodies.

Trustees had argued that by representing the district at large through districtwide elections, it reduced the likelihood of favoritism for specific areas or schools.

No Change in District’s Proposal

District officials decided to submit the current map because it was approved a year ago and is up to date, district spokeswoman Kelly Avants said.

“Having just completed an extensive process using data from the decennial census to update trustee areas and balance population counts, etc. the Board is proposing to adopt the current trustee map for the district-based election process,” she said.

That map, which was finalized last year, shifted a few boundary lines but retained each trustee in a separate area that encompassed more than one high school region. The map had been one of four prepared by district demographers, and a fifth map was proposed by Trustee Steven Fogg.

Fogg, whose Area 5 seat will be up for election next year, told GV Wire that he doesn’t plan to introduce an alternate map this time.

“I was thinking about it but it didn’t get much support last time — everyone is pretty happy with what we have,” he said in a text message. “It does a good job at keeping our district unified. I just like straight lines and logical boundaries.”

Following Best Practices

Map 201 , submitted by the Equitable Maps Coalition, contains more straight lines than the current trustee map, and it also would more evenly divide the district’s population across north Fresno and Clovis into the seven trustee areas. Under the current map the population ranges from 32,485 in Area 4 to 34,032 in Area 6. The population range in Map 201 is much tighter, from 33,096 in Area 2 to 33,260 in Area 7.

Map 201 also provides a higher percentage of Hispanic residents in two of the seven trustee areas, although there would be no majority in any. Area 1’s Hispanic population would increase from 29.8% to 32.4%, while Area 7’s Hispanic population would grow from 30% to 34%, but Area 5’s Hispanic population would shrink from 31% to 26% under the Map 201 proposal.

In addition to providing a bigger voice for Hispanic residents, the reconfiguring of Areas 6 and 7 would give greater voice to Asian communities, said the coalition’s demographer, Jesus Garcia.

Garcia said the goal was to follow best practices of drawing trustee election areas, which includes balancing overall population as well as looking for opportunities to increase percentages of some ethnic and racial groups that have been underrepresented on the School Board

Another goal was to create uniform communities that are more contiguous without “arms” stretching into other trustee areas, as Area 1 does on the current map, Garcia said. Map 201 also follows natural boundaries, such as freeways and the inflow and outflow of the Fresno-Yosemite International Airport, he said.

Having More Options

Garcia said he thought it was “arrogant” of the district to present the current map instead of taking advantage of the opportunity to provide alternatives. “You limit yourself,” he said.

The coalition became involved this time upon the request of several community members, Garcia said, but was not involved in the prior redistricting effort because it came at the same time other School Districts were redrawing trustee lines. Garcia said he submitted three “beautiful” maps for Central Unified’s redistricting, none of which was selected by the Central trustees.

What is not best practices, Garcia said, is including in mapping considerations the location of trustees’ home, which Clovis Unified did in the past so trustees wouldn’t wind up living in the same area after redistricting. “We’re not building maps for the current board members. We’re building maps for the future,” he said.

In addition to Fogg, the three Clovis Unified School District seats that will be up for election in 2024 are held by David DeFrank (Area 2), Hugh Awtrey (Area 4), and Yolanda Moore (Area 7). Moore is the board’s only person of color.

Once the draft maps are created, the district then must hold at least two public hearings over a 45-day period for more public input.

The proposed maps then must go to the Fresno County Commission on School District Reorganization, which has to hold at least one public hearing before voting to approve or reject the district’s change from at-large to by-area elections.

Map 201

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