Lucia Mar school district considers redrawing its trustee area boundaries

The existing area lines within the school district, including population and number of citizens versus trustees.
The existing area lines within the school district, including population and number of citizens versus trustees. Courtesy of Lucia Mar Unified School District

The areas that each trustee represents on the Lucia Mar Unified School District board may soon change to more fairly represent the shifting demographics in the district.

The Board of Trustees voted to move forward on Tuesday night with plans to redraw its trustee area boundaries — just in time for the November election.

The district now will need to draft and approve a map with potential boundary changes and present that to the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education for review. The new boundaries would be changed prior to November, according to a district staff report, when three trustee seats would be up for election.

This would mark the first time the district has adjusted its boundaries since it was unified in 1966.

The board is made up of seven trustees, representing four areas within the district:

  • Area 1: Nipomo and Oso Flaco. Represented by trustee Chad Roberston.
  • Area 2: Arroyo Grande, Branch and Huasna. Represented by trustees Colleen Martin, Vicki Meagher and Mark Millis. It is the largest area with the most trustees.
  • Area 3: Oceano. Represented by trustee Vern Dahl.
  • Area 4: Grover Beach, Pismo Beach and Shell Beach. Represented by trustees Dee Santos and Don Stewart.

Those boundary lines were set when the district unified in 1966, based on the existing community divisions at that time. Since then, the population within the district has grown to almost 75,000 people, with much of that growth happening in the Nipomo region.

According to Stacy Meko, of parent advocacy group Voices of Lucia Mar for Education (VOLUME), there’s a large disparity in the number of people being represented by each trustee. Meko said ideally each trustee would represent about 10,700 people — one-seventh of the district’s population. Currently, the lone Nipomo trustee represents close to 19,000.

“Really, the idea is just to rebalance the representation so that it’s a little more equal,” Meko said. “In 50 years, a lot has changed in terms of population.”

VOLUME has been pushing for new district lines since February 2015. The group convinced the board to form a committee to review realignment, and come back to the board with a recommendation this year.

It’s time for this to happen.

Stacy Meko, Voices of Lucia Mar for Education representative

The committee — of which Meko was also a member — returned Jan. 19, and then again Tuesday night, to present its findings and recommend the board adjust its trustee area lines. Three options were presented at the Jan. 19 meeting that could serve a basis for the final map. Those are available at the district website.

The group also recommended that the district keep its current election format, of requiring all registered voters to vote on all trustee seats, not just those representing their area.

“The consensus on that was that it supports the trustees making decisions for the entire district at-large, and not just their tiny neighborhoods,” Meko said.

The district will hold a study session Monday with a cartographer and Superintendent Raynee Daley to consider what the new boundaries could look like, including the three options. The meeting will be open to the public.

“It’s time for this to happen,” Meko said, noting that she encourages parents and students in the Lucia Mar district to attend the meeting. “But moving forward, this really can’t happen in a vacuum.”

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

If you go

The Lucia Mar Unified School District will hold a study session on Monday to examine possible alternatives and maps for trustee area realignment. The public meeting will be held in the Louise Elliston Conference Room at 602 Orchard Road, Arroyo Grande, at 5:15 p.m.