Newport-Mesa selects map for adjusting school trustee zone boundaries


After a yearlong debate about how to adjust trustee zone boundaries to make them more equal in population, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District board on Tuesday unanimously approved a map labeled Map G, which critics contend was created with minimal public input.

The boundary adjustment is part of the district’s decision to change its election system so trustees will be chosen by voters in the zones they live in instead of by voters throughout the school district. School attendance boundaries will not be affected.

For the record:

12:10 p.m. Oct. 19, 2017This article originally stated incorrectly that Ashley Anderson is a former Newport-Mesa Unified teacher. She has not taught in the district.

The plan will go to the county and state for approval with hopes of putting the new voting system in place by the next election in November 2018.

Of the district’s two proposed maps for its seven trustee zones, Maps G and B vary slightly, according to information presented during three public hearings in September and October.

In Map G, trustee Area 7 has a slightly lower population of Latinos but a higher percentage of minorities, at 58.9%, while in Map B it would have a slightly higher Latino population but a lower minority percentage, at 54.9%.

Map G includes three schools in Area 5 and five schools in Area 6, while Map B would have one school in Area 5 and seven in Area 6.

During Tuesday’s special board meeting, critics of Map G repeated arguments they made throughout the public hearings, saying it was created without enough public input. They urged the trustees to table the issue and consider an alternate map created by a resident.

Map B was created this year under the guidance of a committee with members chosen by district Supt. Fred Navarro from areas throughout Costa Mesa and Newport Beach.

The district said Map G was created based on community input and board direction after the release of Map B.

Board President Karen Yelsey rebuffed criticisms of the trustees’ map choice.

“It’s unfortunate we’re getting tainted about having any advisory committee come back to bite us,” she said. “An advisory isn’t out there to vet every map. We come back with what might be better.”

Ashley Anderson, a former teacher, contended it was “not wise to split off” Costa Mesa’s Westside into two trustee zones, which would split the Victoria Elementary School community.

Map G splits seven elementary schools among trustee zones; Map B would split 10.

Judy Franco, who has been on the board for 37 years, announced Tuesday she wouldn’t run for reelection in 2018.

That tended to clear up rumors about why the board may have preferred Map G over B. In Map B, Franco and Yelsey’s current addresses would be in the same trustee zone, Area 5, resulting in the possibility of them running against each other in a future election.

Last week, Franco and Yelsey denied that was a factor in the creation of Map G.

The school board agreed in March to change its election system amid a legal complaint alleging the current at-large voting system violates the California Voting Rights Act by preventing Latino residents from electing candidates of their choice.

A district report last year showed that trustee zones haven’t been altered since Newport-Mesa was formed 50 years ago, though the populations in each area have changed, with some containing as many as 46,000 residents while others have around 16,000.

Twitter: @vegapriscella