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Input provided on proposed San Dieguito trustee maps

A proposed option for the revised San Dieguito Union School District map.
(Courtesy)

Over the next few weeks the San Dieguito Union High School District will work on rebalancing its trustee area map to reflect population growth, as must be done every 10 years when new census numbers are released. The 2020 census has revealed the district’s map is out of compliance and area boundaries need to be adjusted to ensure equal population in each of the five areas by March 1.

At a Jan. 20 meeting, the board agreed to shift its timeline slightly to both give the demographer more time and allow more time for public input, including adding a community input session on Zoom on Jan. 24. Alternative maps can be submitted until Feb. 4 and a special board meeting will be held on Feb. 10 to select the final three map alternatives. Final adoption is planned for Feb. 17.

The ideal trustee area size is 36,720 residents. Area 5, which includes Carmel Valley and Pacific Highlands Ranch, has grown significantly since 2010 to 44,577 people: “Area 5 has to shrink,” said attorney Milton Foster of F3 Law, representing the district through this process.

Foster said the demographer primarily takes into consideration the total population, then looks at citizen voting age of the larger minority groups within the district in order to maintain the original integrity of the map and make sure there’s not a significant decrease in the voting power of those particular groups. Board and community input will help the demographer further refine the map.

While the process is not a complete draw-over from scratch, SDUHSD Vice President Michael Allman and community members remarked that the initial three map options presented by the demographer do look quite different from the existing map. Due to the disproportionate growth in the south, the shapes of the areas have changed. In the proposed scenarios, the bulk of Rancho Santa Fe moves from Area 3 with Del Mar to Area 4 with Carmel Valley, and Del Mar shifts into Area 3 with Solana Beach.

SDUHSD Clerk Melisse Mossy suggested a map revision that keeps communities together as much as possible and retains feeder district boundaries.

In the proposals, her Trustee Area 3 is seeing a lot of change, shifting to include not just Rancho Santa Fe and Cardiff but Encinitas, Solana Beach and Carmel Valley.

“People want to know the people they elect, that was the point of having the smaller trustee areas. All of our communities are so different… what’s so beautiful about our district is that kids can choose their schools because they’re each their own communities,” Mossy said. “I think it’s important that we retain those micro-communities and that they retain their power in knowing who they elect…we just don’t want to fracture our neighborhoods.”

In her comments, SDUHSD Trustee Katrina Young suggested that each area has a high school within its boundaries. In the proposed maps, the new Area 1 has San Dieguito Academy and Sunset while Area 3 no longer has a high school.

During the Jan. 24 community input session, community members shared some of the same concerns as the trustees, including keeping feeder districts together. There were suggestions for more evenly dispersing the population in Area 5 districtwide and a map that acknowledged like communities and elementary school feeder districts—parent Robyne Ruterbusch said it didn’t seem like the demographer understood how communities related to each other.

Like she did back when the district first drew the maps in 2017, Encinitas resident Rhea Stewart advocated for keeping elementary school feeder districts together in one area. Stewart said scenario 2 divides the Cardiff School District: “I realize not everyone is going to get what they want but to divide up an elementary district like this would be unfair,” she said.

There were also calls for the district to be completely transparent about communication with the demographer due to issues of distrust and concerns about the lines being drawn to benefit political affiliations.

SDUHSD Superintendent Cheryl James-Ward said the demographer has not had any communication with the district and is just looking at the numbers.

While the map makes the election of board members community-based, the understanding is that all school board members are elected to serve all trustee areas and the district as a whole.

To review maps, provide public comment and watch a video of the Jan. 24 meeting, visit the CVRA page on the district website at sduhsd.net


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