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Hart district superintendent reassures parents

Concerns raised about divisiveness of breaking into sub-districts

Posted: July 31, 2014 5:07 p.m.
Updated: July 31, 2014 5:07 p.m.

While changes to its board elections are on the horizon, the Hart district’s superintendent said Thursday that community members do not need to worry about the direction of the district as a whole.

“The bottom line is, while this action will affect the way people vote, it will not alter the way the district is governed,” William S. Hart Union High School District Superintendent Robert Challinor wrote in a message to district parents and community members Thursday.

Members of the Hart district board voted 4-1 on July 16 to approve the shift to district-based board elections rather than face a potential battle over a California Voting Rights Act lawsuit like some agencies in the Santa Clarita Valley have.

Though the Hart district board approved the shift, board President Steve Sturgeon said at the time that the one “no” vote “represents all of our attitudes toward this process.”

Challinor said it is a multi-step process to move to district-based elections, in which residents will vote for a representative based on where they live, from the current at-large system, in which residents can vote for each seat up for election in a given year.

One of the biggest steps will be determining how to split the Hart district into voting districts, a process that will include a demographic study and discussion at public board meetings.

“I want to assure our community that these meetings will be publicized in advance, and we encourage people to attend to offer public comment on the process and express their opinions,” Challinor wrote to district constituents.

“Hearing from you ensures that your board can consider your thoughts and values.”

One of the concerns raised with voting districts is that they could lead to infighting and result in board members more concerned with the area they represent than the school district as a whole.

Challinor said he is confident that will not happen in the Hart district.

“Our school community has placed their trust and faith in the Hart board to act as a cohesive team, committed to serving the best interest of all students and staff,” he wrote. “I am fully confident the board will continue to govern with hearts and minds committed to serving all students.”

The city of Santa Clarita, Santa Clarita Community College District and Sulphur Springs School District all recently settled lawsuits alleging their at-large election systems violated the California Voting Rights Act by preventing Latino voters from electing candidates of their choice.

Only Sulphur Springs adopted a move to by-district elections as part of a settlement. Hart district’s redistricting move was made prior to any lawsuit being filed.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




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