Business Group Backs Initiative to Overturn School Remap Plan : Education: The association wants to replace the city-approved map with a Valley-friendly alternative.


Fearing a loss of clout for the San Fernando Valley on educational matters, a leading Valley business group has endorsed a ballot initiative drive to overturn a recently approved redistricting plan that fragmented Valley representation on the Los Angeles school board.

The board of directors of the Valley Industry and Commerce Assn., which is composed of more than 300 local businesses, voted Monday to back an initiative that would substitute a Valley-friendly alternative for the remap plan passed by the City Council this summer.

Supporters hope to qualify the measure for the June, 1993, ballot and said they may submit a proposed initiative to the city attorney's office by the end of next week. If the wording is approved, the Coalition Against Unfair School Elections can begin collecting the nearly 48,000 signatures needed to place the measure before the voters.

The City Council drew new board of education boundaries in July after rancorous confrontations with parents and community groups. The boundaries eliminated one of two all-Valley seats and divided Valley representation between four of the seven board members.

Supporters of the map contended that it would ensure Latino voters control of two board seats, but detractors--including VICA members--accused the council of gerrymandering and needlessly weakening the Valley's political voice.

Since then, the map's opponents have mounted a campaign to replace the plan with an alternate proposed during the redistricting process by Councilwoman Joy Picus. VICA Chairman Benjamin Reznik said his organization advocates the Picus plan, which preserves two Valley-based seats.

He said the board of directors voted on the recommendation of its education committee, which heard from representatives on both sides of the issue during the past month. In August, school board President Leticia Quezada, who supports the current boundaries, told VICA that Latinos consider the remapping an important political victory.

"I think it's the right position for VICA to take to support the Valley's interests," Reznik, an attorney, said of Monday's vote. "We think it's fair to the Valley without harming the city."

VICA did not vote to support the remap campaign financially, though individual members may decide to contribute to the effort.

The drive to secure a berth on the June ballot is being spearheaded by the Coalition Against Unfair School Elections, a group co-chaired by VICA board member Nick Brestoff. On Monday night, the coalition formally voted to hire a Burbank campaign consultant to help take its case to the voters.

Coalition member Diana Dixon-Davis of the 31st District Parent Teacher Student Assn. said the group had hoped the petitions would be available in August but that they will probably be ready by early next month.

The coalition has until Dec. 30 to qualify the initiative for the June election.

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