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The San Marcos Consolidated ISD Board of Trustees discussed the responsibilities of the redistricting committee during Monday's regular meeting. Screenshot via SMCISD YouTube

SMCISD Board discusses redistricting committee’s responsibilities during Monday meeting

Thursday, November 17, 2022

The San Marcos Consolidated ISD Board of Trustees discussed various responsibilities and expectations it has for its redistricting committee at Monday’s meeting.

During its September regular meeting, the board reactivated its citizens advisory committee on seven single-member districts to make a recommendation regarding the board’s configuration for elections.

The committee previously recommended that the district move to seven single-member districts as opposed to the current five trustees representing a single-member district and two at-large trustees election format. But the board rejected the move in December 2021.

The trustees shared their opinions regarding the committee’s expectations during Monday’s meeting.

Trustee Dr. Mari Salmi began the conversation saying that one of her goals as a member of the school board is to increase community and parent participation in SMCISD’s schools.

“I would like any change we make to how we elect the SMCISD Board of Trustees to be focused on increasing participation of voters and candidates,” Salmi said. “To that end, I don’t think that the panel should fit a seven single-member map into the existing seven board members addresses. I think the panel should consider the boundaries of SMCISD as a clean slate rather than gerrymandering the map to accommodate any of the seven people on this dais and that includes myself. I am an at-large member elected to represent all of San Marcos ISD and if we are to be presented with a map that is dividing this whole area into seven single-member districts I think it should start from scratch.”

Trustee Brian Shanks said he believes the committee should be charged with coming up with a recommendation on whether to move to seven single-member districts or whether to keep the current format should stay in place.

“I think that needs to be the charge of this committee is to come to us with a recommendation of what type of voting districts they want,” Shanks said. “Not, ‘Hey, go out and do the seven member and let’s bring it back here and see if we’ll vote again on it.’”

Trustee Miguel Arredondo agreed with Shanks, adding that he would like to see whole neighborhoods represented by individual trustees instead of two different trustees splitting certain neighborhoods.

“Similarly, we see throughout the ISD what Dr. Salmi referred to as gerrymandering, if you will,” Arredondo said. “I understand that there are some legal requirements that we need to meet and we should continue to meet those requirements. But, if we can in whatever shape or form put whole neighborhoods in single-member districts … that’s my only request is that the committee consider is putting neighborhoods with one representative and however that looks that’s how it looks.”

Trustee Margie Villalpando requested that when the maps are drawn that her district number remain the same.

“Wherever I am needs to be [District] 2 as it always has been,” Villalpando said.

Salmi interjected saying that if the decision to change to seven single-member districts is made then the move shouldn’t be based on the current board members. “It should be based on our city, that’s my point,” Salmi said.

“Well, as long as I am in office I would like, wherever I am — I mean, you can draw the map however you want to — but where I am, I would like to remain in District 2,” Villalpando replied.

Trustee Anne Halsey said the important thing is the process should be done in a thoughtful manner.

“I agree with Mr. Shanks and I would like to look at this holistically and figure out what things we can do to engage voters,” Halsey said. “I think we should pay special attention to teachers and to parents because I think that this does concern, like the educational operation of a school district has a very particular impart in their lives. I think that we should think about the ways how we divide the district up, how that impacts the ability to organize and voice their concerns and voice the issues that they are concerned about.”

Halsey also added that she would like for other models of voting to be examined, including rank-choice voting. She also said the timing of elections should be looked at, whether to keep elections in May or move them to a different time of the year.

Rolando Rios, a redistrict lawyer, said each issue raised during the board discussion was “excellent.”

“We should have iterations that will address each one of those concerns,” Rios said. “Now, as far as this school district, this school district is growing enormously. It’s exploding and the theory behind seven single-member districts is to bring democracy closer to the community so you can have a direct communication with your voters in so far as policy is concerned. But, as I said, all the issues y’all raised are issues that can be addressed by the committee and bring y’all alternatives and y’all can decide.”

John McGlothlin, member of the redistricting committee, said the members don’t make policy and would only provide options to the board.

“We haven’t met yet but it sounds like each of you has a slightly different idea of what we might do, so unless y’all want to hash that out on the front end, we’re gonna meet three times or something,” McGlothlin said. “We’re not going to be able to get into all of that nuance but we can give you options and reasons and take public comment. We can do some of those things, some of that leg work, so that y’all can just make that political decision at the end.”

To view the full discussion visit,

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666