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Board Member Districts

The RISD Board of Trustees voted in January 2019 to move to a 5-2 electoral plan with five single-member districts and two at large representatives.

NEWS and information

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By Unanimous Vote, Trustees Adopt Transition Plan for District Election Process

At their May 21 work session, Richardson ISD Trustees finalized the district’s transition plan to a new 5-2 electoral system by unanimously adopting the phase-in schedule for single-member and at-large positions on the board. The vote is the final step in a process designed to create opportunities for greater diversity on the board.

Trustees Discuss Transition to Board Member District

At their March 25 work session, RISD trustees discussed the transition of the Board electoral process to a system of five single-member districts and two at large seats. The information item was the next step in the process of RISD’s transition to a hybrid model of electing trustees.

Federal Court Approves Postponement of RISD Board Election Until November

On February 11, a U.S. District court granted permission for Richardson ISD to postpone its 2019 Board of Trustees election—usually held in May—until the November 5, 2019, general election.

Trustees Adopt Board Member Boundary Map as Part of New Single-Member District Election Process

Richardson ISD Trustees Monday night voted unanimously to adopt a board member boundary map, outlining specific areas that Trustees will represent under the new single-member district election system. With the vote, RISD moves a step closer to creating more opportunities for minority candidates to serve.

Richardson School Board Votes Unanimously to End Voting Rights Act Lawsuit

RISD to move toward 5–2 electoral plan with five single-member districts and two at large representatives; board president calls the move a win for educational equity

The Richardson ISD School Board voted unanimously this week to end a Voting Rights Act lawsuit regarding the way trustees will be elected in the future. The president of the board described the board as “united and committed,” and he called the action a win for equity in education. The decision to settle the suit means the parties will seek federal court approval to change this year’s school board election to November. Upon court approval, voting for three seats will occur in November, as opposed to May, after the board develops a transition plan that phases in the new single-member districts. 

FAQs

For many reasons, but ultimately, it’s about creating a system that provides a larger, more diverse pool of candidates a better opportunity to be elected to the school board. The Board’s decision is a result of the settlement of a lawsuit which challenged the way RISD school board members are elected. Currently, all seven board members are chosen by all of the voters within the geographic boundaries of the district. This system is known as “at-large” representation. The board decided unanimously to support a new plan under which five members will be elected from specific geographic districts called “single-member districts,” while two members will continue to be selected at-large. The plan is called a 5-2 single-member district/at-large plan. RISD trustees believe this plan represents the right way to encourage minority candidates to successfully run for school board. In addition, this decision saves significant tax dollars that would have been necessary to continue to defend the lawsuit.

Currently, all seven trustees are elected every three years in elections in which all of the voters within the geographic boundaries of RISD may vote for all candidates – a system known as “at-large” representation. The candidates are not required to reside in any particular area, only within the district.

Under the 5-2 plan, RISD will be divided up into five separate geographic single-member districts, and only voters in those districts would be able to vote for board members who run to represent those districts. A candidate must reside within the district for which he or she seeks election. Two places on the school board would continue to be elected at-large, and candidates running for those places may reside anywhere within RISD boundaries and all voters may vote for an at-large candidate.

Many factors were considered by the Board and balanced during the creation of the proposed single-member districts, including traditional neighborhoods, school feeder patterns, demographic makeup via census data, and voting precincts. Additionally, per the settlement agreement, two of the single-member districts were required to be made up by a majority of voting-age residents consisting of minority population. Also, by law, the variance in the population between the largest and smallest single-member districts cannot exceed 10%. All of these factors required numerous tradeoffs in creating the proposed map. Demographic experts worked with the parties on both sides of the lawsuit to arrive at proposed single-members districts that were mutually acceptable. Public feedback to the proposed boundaries is an important part of the process. The final boundaries to submit to the court as part of the formal settlement of the lawsuit are expected to be voted on by RISD trustees in February 2019.

No. Federal and state laws outline the process for changing electoral systems, and do not call for a ballot measure. It is the responsibility of the Board of Trustees to decide on the system and the single-member district boundaries. RISD is soliciting feedback from residents related to proposed single-member district boundaries and will consider the feedback prior to voting to adopt the boundaries.

As part of the settlement agreement, the parties will ask the federal court to allow RISD to postpone the May 4 trustee election until the general election day in November. RISD will use that time to plan for the transition to the new 5-2 system and communicate details with stakeholders and voters.

Until the federal court authorizes RISD to postpone the May election, RISD will continue to take the steps necessary to prepare for a May election, in the unlikely event the federal court does not approve postponing it until November. In early February, the parties will formally request that the court authorize RISD to postpone the May election. We hope for a ruling in advance of the February 15 deadline to call the May 4, 2019 election.

All current trustees are in the process of completing the three year terms to which they were elected. Trustees currently are at different points within their terms, and all will be able to fully complete their current terms. The 5-2 system that includes single-member districts will be phased in starting with the three terms that would expire in November 2019. Current trustees who choose to run for re-election would do so under the 5-2 system. The RISD Board of Trustees must determine its transition plan by August. The transition plan will be finalized in time for potential candidates to file in the November 2019 election and voters to make informed decisions.

No. After the initial trustee election in November 2019, trustee elections would resume in May beginning in 2020.

The RISD Board of Trustees must determine its transition plan by August. The transition plan will be finalized in time for potential candidates to file in the November 2019 election and voters to make informed decisions.

The RISD Board of Trustees will be required by law to consider any required changes in the District boundaries every ten years based on changed census figures.

School districts across Texas employ a variety of electoral systems. Some districts elect all trustees at-large, as RISD has historically done. Some districts have implemented “hybrid” systems, where some places on the board are elected at large and some are elected from single-member districts. RISD is moving to a hybrid system. Other districts employ a hybrid system that allows voters to cast multiple votes for a single candidate if multiple seats are on a ballot. Finally, some school districts, such as Dallas and Houston, elect all members from geographic single-member districts.

In recent years, as demographics across Texas have changed, more districts have moved from an at-large system to hybrid and single-member systems.

Once the new 5-2 system is in place, every eligible RISD voter will be able to vote in three total trustee elections – elections for the single-member district in which they live, and elections for the two at large positions. All eligible RISD voters will still be able to vote in other RISD elections, such as bond referendums.

The answer is the same as if no one ran for an at-large place. The constitutional doctrine of “hold over” could apply.  That doctrine says an elected official continues to serve until his/her replacement is qualified and seated. If that occurred, the current Board member would continue to serve until a special election could be called.

That principle does not apply, however, if the official is not qualified to hold the seat. The person must reside in the single member district. So, once the transition plan is implemented, if the current member does not live in the district up for election, he/she could not “hold over” if no candidate filed to run in that district, and a vacancy would be created.  The Board then would fill the vacancy as directed in the statute that governs vacant Board seats.

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