By KERRY BENEFIELD
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The Sonoma Valley Unified School District is looking at its election practices after being alerted by Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools Steve Herrington that its current hybrid practice might not meet Voting Rights Act standards.
Sonoma Valley elects its five trustees from five voting areas, but all residents in the district can cast votes for any candidate.
“This office has a duty to notify them that they need to evaluate their situation,” Herrington said.
The school board plans to contract with a demographer to look at its process, Superintendent Louann Carlomagno said.
“The biggest thing is we want to be sure that we do have representation from the voting population here in Sonoma and that the minority voice is being accounted for and addressed,” she said.
As has been the case in Santa Rosa in recent years, Sonoma Valley has not had competitive elections, Board President Nicole Ducarroz said.
“We haven’t had a contested election since 2004,” she said.
But Ducarroz said the self-examination could be valuable.
“I think it’s good to reassess and look at things and see if we need to redraw boundaries,” she said.
The current system allows people to run from different geographic areas of the city, but the at-large voting helps keep the board focused on the entire district, Ducarroz said.
“It really keeps us united because you don’t have to vie for any one school, you really represent all of the schools and all of the district,” she said.
School district officials hope to have a plan in place by February.
Staff Writer Kerry Benefield writes an education blog at extracredit.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.