Trustees adopt board member boundary map as part of new single-member district election process

Richardson ISD Trustees Monday night voted unanimously to adopt a board member boundary map, outlining specific areas that Trustees will represent under the new single-member district election system. With the vote, RISD moves a step closer to creating more opportunities for minority candidates to serve.

Under the new 5:2 single-member district system, five of the seven RISD Trustees will be elected from single-member geographic districts by registered voters who reside within those outlined boundaries. The remaining two board spots will be elected at large by registered voters throughout RISD.

School board members are currently elected at large — a system that was challenged last year in a lawsuit, which alleged it did not allow equitable opportunity for minority representation.

The single-member district boundaries were drawn to create two opportunity districts in which the majority of eligible voters identify with a minority race based on census data. At last night’s meeting, Trustees designated single-member districts 3 and 4 as opportunity districts.

RISD Superintendent Dr. Jeannie Stone stated that her recommendation regarding the board’s transition plan will express the board’s intent that District 4 be among the first seats up for election in 2019.

A major component of drawing board district boundaries was maintaining percentage requirements within the general population of the five districts. It presented one of the more challenging aspects for trustees.

“There could not be more than a 10-percent variance between the most populated and least populated areas,” said Justin Bono, RISD School Board President. “As a result, many desired tweaks to the map could not be accommodated. The final map ranges from 41,000–44,000 citizens between those five districts, which keeps us within the required parameters.”

Among other considerations by Trustees was balancing the established school feeder patterns while also creating expanded districts that allow board members, upon election, to represent a larger geography than just the feeder pattern in which they reside.

Trustees will now seek approval from the federal court to allow RISD to postpone the regularly scheduled May 4, 2019 school board election until this year’s November’s general election day. If approved, trustees will adopt a transition plan detailing which seats will be elected as the new system is phased in over the next three election cycles, concluding in May 2021.

Three seats, which have yet to be determined, will be on the ballot in November 2019, pending court approval.

To see the adopted map and other information about the new system of electing trustees, please visit the Board Member District website.