By split vote, Board of Education members have approved two new redistricting maps for Merced City School District trustee areas that will be scrutinized by the public at hearings in October.
Board members Adam Cox and Jessica Kazakos voted against redistricting maps C2 and D at Tuesday night's board meeting. Board members Darrell Cherf, Susan Walsh and Gene Stamm voted to approve the maps, which were among six options available.
"I wish the process was a little more carefully thought out," Cox said. "I think this is being rushed. The selections chosen probably are not the best to represent the community."
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"The process started three weeks ago. We have had six weeks to look at these and three opportunities to talk about them," Walsh said. "We are running out of time. We have to adopt a map by March, and it takes 60 days for preapproval by the Department of Justice."
Kazakos, who represents Area 5 in South Merced, didn't feel map options C2 and D were the best. Cox said the redistricting maps will be presented to all 17 school site councils and the district's English Language Advisory Committee.
Cox said each trustee area is supposed to include more than 16,000 residents. It's important to preserve minority majorities in districts 3 and 5. He said some people have mistakenly confused trustee areas with school attendance boundaries.
"We all represent the district," Cox said, "but people in neighborhoods should know who represents them. I want to encourage people to participate in the process."
Stamm said the two approved redistricting maps should pass a Department of Justice review and will give the public a choice. The process triggered by the 2010 federal census should be completed by November so the map can be sent to the federal government for review.
Superintendent RoseMary Parga Duran said they want to make sure the redistricting map is fair and meets DOJ requirements. After the public hearings at Oct. 11 and Oct. 25 board meetings, the maps can be tweaked if necessary, she added.
Associate Superintendent Greg Spicer said the board wants to be extremely careful in maintaining ethnic group percentages in the districts.
Walsh thought the approved maps were good and would meet DOJ guidelines.
"I should be interested in all schools," Walsh said. "We're in it for the good of everybody."
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.