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CUSD invites public feedback on trustee districts — podcast

The public is invited to weigh in at the Claremont Unified School District Board of Education’s 7 p.m. meeting Thursday, February 17, in which it will officially vote to move from at large to trustee districts.

Under the trustee district plan, the board will share jurisdiction over the district’s secondary schools — El Roble Intermediate, San Antonio High School, and Claremont High — and each of CUSD’s seven elementary schools we be represented by two board members.

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The board meets in closed session at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, February 17, followed by a 7 p.m. public session, at CUSD’s district offices, 170 W. San Jose Ave. Meetings are also accessible via Zoom, at https://claremont-ca.schoolloop.com/.

For more information on public comment, go to https://go.boarddocs.com/ca/claremont/Board.nsf/Public and click on “Public Comment and How to Address the Board.”

The vote comes after the board has considered several iterations of proposed trustee maps over its recent meetings.

The finalists — maps 101, 110 and 111 — are visible at https://go.boarddocs.com/ca/claremont/Board.nsf/Public by clicking on “Presentation on Draft Trustee Area Plans (2/3/2022),” then, “Fifth Public Hearing Presentation.pdf.”

Map 101 is still being considered, and map 111 is getting some adjustments to see if area two could be reduced to south of Foothill Blvd., according to Board President Steven Llanusa.

No matter what transpires at next week’s board meeting, the trustee map boundaries will have to be agreed upon and adopted if the board is to meet the required deadlines for the next election cycle, which takes place in November.

Despite the tight time frame, Llanusa said he welcomes public input.

“Absolutely,” he said. “If they prefer one map or the other, they can do so during the public comment section of that agenda item on the 17th.”

The agenda for the February 17 meeting will be posted by 7 p.m. Monday, February 14 at the district offices and at https://go.boarddocs.com/ca/claremont/Board.nsf/Public.

The reason school boards are moving to trustee districts is in part to increase representation, both geographically and racially, Llanusa said, but that doesn’t always work out.

“I’ve seen other school districts where they’ve instituted the trustee area elections, and representation has not been enhanced, or has been reduced,” he said. “But I think that’s just the unintended consequences of good intentions.”

One key difference for Claremont is all five board members will represent CUSD’s three secondary schools, El Roble Intermediate, San Antonio High and Claremont High. But is that enough to mitigate fear over consolidation of power in any one trustee district?

“I think it mitigates it, I don’t think it eliminates it,” Llanusa said. “And it certainly doesn’t eliminate it in terms of representation for the elementary schools.”

Llanusa said his experience with the Los Angeles County Trustee Association has helped him to learn what works and what does not with respect to drawing new maps.

“I’ve seen that some of the districts where they have made attendance boundaries, also the trustee areas, that that does happen,” he said. “And I think we’re wise to try to avoid that.”

Other items discussed at the February 3 board meeting included a presentation on COVID preparation and keeping students safe during the Omicron variant, including testing. There was concern about the district’s ability to test families prior to the April 4-8 spring break.

“We don’t have enough tests in hand to do that,” Llanusa said. “We are trying to purchase them so that we can.”

The public comment regarding COVID testing has run the gamut ever since the board first began discussing COVID back in March 2020.

“It’s an interesting … assortment of views between those who want universal testing, and those who don’t want masks at all. It seems like both ends of the spectrum,” Llanusa said. “It makes life interesting for us board members.”

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