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Board considers possible restructuring, could take action in early December

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District Board of Trustees listened to another presentation and additional public comment on the possible restructure of the board from five single-member districts and two at-large trustees to seven single- member districts at their regularly scheduled meeting Monday, Nov. 13. There were only two public comments on the item: one was for the restructure of the board and one was against it.

SMCISD Board President Anne Halsey said the board held a public hearing at the meeting, as is required by law to even consider moving to the restructure of the board. There will be a discussion and potential action at the Dec. 18 meeting. No vote is required.

“We could decide not to take any action on it. We don’t have to vote on it,” Halsey said. “Every ten years after the National Census the board is required to do a realignment, recalibration of our board to make sure that [our] voting districts are in line with federal guidelines in terms of representation and demographics and also to make sure that we don’t have one voting district that has 5,000 people in it and one voting district that has 25,000.”

Eduardo Rios, a member of the redistricting committee, gave a presentation on the possible new board structure. He said that initially the committee tried to map the seven voting districts to match the elementary school zones but adjustments were required to make it constitutional. He said if the board votes for the new structure, each trustee would run for the district in which they reside only.

Halsey said the redistricting committee realigned the board along federal guidelines last year, so the structure of the board is currently sound in the eyes of the law.

“The change to a seven-zero [seven single- member districts and zero at-large districts] was brought up in the midst of that process,” Halsey said. “We asked the committee to draw up a map of what that would look like and the board would consider the pros and cons about that. … We wanted to look at it and think about it and see if this makes sense for our community at this time. Would the benefits outweigh the negatives? Would it be better for us? So that is what we will be deliberating.”

Halsey said the idea of considering the board restructure now is that, if the change were to be made, it could be done before her and SMCISD At-Large Trustee Mari Salmi–the only two atlarge members—are up for reelection in the spring.

“It’s something that we have voluntarily decided to explore,” Halsey said. “We’ve been talking about it in various forms for two years, and when it was initially broached it was me and Mari that brought it to the board and said, ‘We think, as the two at-large board members, that this is something that we should have a conversation about and explore.”

Halsey shed light on a bit of the history of the possible restructure. She said that in the past the board was structured with seven single-member districts. The GI Forum brought on a lawsuit about 30 years ago, which gave rise to the five single-member trustees and two at-large trustees format that the board currently has. She said under the terms of the decision from that lawsuit the board can add more single-member zones but no additional at-large trustees to its structure.

“We can’t decrease the number of zoned seats, we can only increase them,” Halsey said, adding that a vote to change the board to seven single- member districts would be final, but taking no action would leave that option open for future consideration. “We don’t have to. We’re in compliance with the court order. We’re in compliance with all the federal [and] state guidelines. There are school boards across Texas that have any number of configurations.”

For more information on the history of the redistricting committee and the possible restructure of the board go to news/committee-completes- redistricting-plan.

San Marcos Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666