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School Board votes to keep current structure

Board will continue to be made up of five single-member and two at-large districts
Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Board will continue to be made up of five single-member and two at-large districts

San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District Board of Trustees voted six to one to keep the current configuration of the board, five single-member district trustees and two at-large trustees, at the regularly scheduled meeting Monday. Board of Trustees Vice President Clementine Cantu, representative of district-5, cast the dissenting vote.

The SMCISD Board of Trustees have been weighing the pros and cons of restructuring the trustee voting districts from its current configuration of five single-member district trustees and two at-large trustees to seven single-member districts. This would mean that the trustees each had one own voting district based on place of residence. There was a committee dedicated to mapping out what the new configuration would look like so that it could be considered by the board members.

San Marcos CISD Trustee At-Large Mari Salmi made a motion to keep the district configuration as is with five single-member district trustees and two at-large trustees. The motion was seconded by SMCISD Trustee District-4 Brian Shanks.

“I understand the desire to increase representation on the board, particularly for underrepresented groups,” Salmi said. I have not found any evidence that moving to an entirely single-member district would meet that goal. I think that the goal of participation in our electoral process and in our governance as a school board is extremely important. Our constituents have the ability to vote for three trustees when they vote currently, so I would like to maintain that accessibility.”

SMCISD Trustee District-1 Jessica Cain said she was tentative because the decision to move to seven single-member districts would not be reversible. She agreed with Salmi in that without solid evidence that the restructure would increase representation on the board, she wasn’t in favor of it at this time.

In a previous interview with the Record, SMCISD Board of Trustees President Anne Halsey, an at-large trustee, explained the reason that the decision would be final.

“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 leaving the structure as is 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.”

At last night’s meeting, Halsey said she could understand why a seven single- member district could make sense for the district in the future.

“I understand why that’s something that’s important for districts like DFW and Houston that are considerably larger than ours,” Halsey said. “My understanding is that as long as we are a one high school district — which we just looked at a demographers report that says that we probably will be that for at least the next ten years — making an irreversible change like this where we don’t understand what the intended consequences of that [are], especially when we work really hard to try to get people to vote as is. We struggle with that, so I’m afraid that we would have the unintended consequence of suppressing the vote further because we have so many people that do come out for the At-Large election.”

Cain felt it was important to stress that each board member is responsible for representing voters in all of San Marcos, not just the district of their place of residence.

To learn more about the history of the restructure go to sanmarcosrecord. com/news/board-considers- possible-restructuring- could-take-action- early-december.

San Marcos Record

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