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A portion of the Map A, one of the county's three proposed electoral maps for SDUHSD since taking over the school district's redistricting process. Courtesy graphic
A portion of the Map A, one of the county's three proposed electoral maps for SDUHSD since taking over the school district's redistricting process. Courtesy graphic
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County presents three electoral map proposals for SDUHSD

ENCINITAS — The county’s Committee on School District Organization presented three draft electoral maps for the San Dieguito Union High School District, or SDUHSD, during an April 13 public hearing. 

Since the San Diego County Office of Education assumed control of the school district’s redistricting process in early April, the committee has held two public hearings to allow community input for the demographer.

The county’s involvement comes amid a pending lawsuit alleging violations of both the California Voting Rights Act and Brown Act.

In a letter to Superintendent Cheryl James-Ward, County Superintendent of Schools Paul Gothold wrote the  county’s takeover was “appropriate given issues calling into question the timeliness and legality of the District’s action to adopt a redistricting map.”

In compliance with the California Education Code and California Voting Rights Act, the maps presented by the demographer, Washington D.C.-based company ARCBridge Consulting and Training, balanced the population within a 10% variance without diluting the representation of minority voters, according to an ARCBridge representative who spoke at the meeting. 

In addition to the redistricting requirements, many speakers at the first public hearing on April 6 requested the new maps maintain the current election cycles and trustee representation of each district; place a middle and high school in each area, and keep intact communities of interest, such as elementary feeder school districts.

“We have to look at [census data] and see how to draw the areas such that we meet the redistricting criteria, as well as preserve the interest of the community, continuity of trustee election cycles … [and representation] of minorities,” said Priti Mathur, a representative of ARCBridge.

In 2021, ARCBridge worked with neighboring school districts, including San Diego Unified High School District, San Diego Community College District and Los Angeles Unified High School District. The company has not previously worked with the County Office of Education or San Dieguito Union High School District, according to Mathur.

The three maps presented at the April 13 public hearing were all based on the school district’s 2017 “Cranberry Map,” the map currently used by the district for which the population variance was out of compliance at 27.9%. Considering public input, all three maps maintained election cycles, did not displace trustees and attempted to keep communities of interest intact, according to Mathur. 

The first map presented, Map A, has a population variance of 3.76%. There is one middle school in each area and at least one high school in every area, with the exception of Area 3. Both San Dieguito Academy and Sunset High School are located in Area 1. 

The second proposal, Map B, has a variance of 0.98% and keeps the same distributions of middle and high schools per area as Map A. 

The third map, Map C, has a variance of 0.3% and places one middle school and high school in each district, moving San Dieguito Academy from Area 1 to Area 3.

During the public hearing, 15 speakers commented on the maps. Regarding the distribution of schools, some favored Map C for the school in Area 3, however, some said that moving San Dieguito Academy would divide the Hispanic community near Ocean Knoll Elementary, which is right next to the high school. 

“It is important that [the Hispanic community] remains intact with their Ocean Knolls Elementary and Area 1 neighbor,” one speaker, a resident of Solana Beach, said. “I realize [this] means that Area 1 would not have a high school and that is a compromise that works for my community.”

In addition to the distribution of schools, the Area 3 border area encompassing the city of Solana Beach, was another point of discussion during the hearing. 

In all the maps, Area 3 extends South, following Interstate 5. However, east of that vertical border, maps A and B follow Lomas Santa Fe, while Map C shifts that border to Via De La Valle. A few Solana Beach residents spoke in favor of Map C because it kept the Solana Beach community together. 

A similar border difference occurs in Del Mar. The eastern border in Map B follows I-5 and keeps the Del Mar Heights neighborhood with the city of Del Mar. In Map A and Map C, the two areas encompassing Carmel Valley and Rancho Santa Fe (Area 4 and Area 5), extend west of I-5 and include the Del Mar Heights area.

Similar to the discussion of the Solana Beach border, a few Del Mar residents requested the Del Mar Heights neighborhood be kept with the city.

Following this hearing, the demographer will revise the maps using the community’s feedback, according to County Board of Education President Rick Shea. The next public hearing will be held Wednesday, April 20. The deadline for the county to select a map is April 30.

Anna Opalsky is a sophomore at Torrey Pines High School. She is an intern reporter with The Coast News covering the San Dieguito Union High School District.