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Smart Voter
Los Angeles County, CA June 5, 2012 Election
Measure A
Formation of Geographic Sub-Districts
Pasadena Unified School District

Charter Amendment - Majority Approval Required

Pass: 15,791 / 54.51% Yes votes ...... 13,180 / 45.49% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Jun 29 2:14pm, 100.00% of Precincts Reporting (126/126)
Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

Shall the Charter of the City of Pasadena be amended to provide for the nomination and election of members of the Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education by geographic sub-districts, with geographic sub-districts adopted by the School Board and redrawn after each federal census based upon a citizen Redistricting Commission recommendation?

Impartial Analysis from MICHELE BEAL BAGNERIS
Pasadena City Attorney
Measure A is submitted to the voters by the Pasadena City Council and would amend the Pasadena City Charter to provide for the nomination and election of members to the Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education by sub-districts instead of by district wide vote.


On November 23, 2010, the PUSD Board ("Board") endorsed the election of Board members from geographic sub-districts instead of the present at large, district wide, method. This change requires an amendment to the City Charter.

The PUSD Charter Amendment and Districting Task Force approved proposed language to amend the City Charter, and on December 13, 2011, the Board approved the language to be submitted to voters. On February 6, 2012, the City Council authorized the submittal of this Charter amendment to the voters of the school district and called the necessary special election.

The Measure.

If passed, Measure A would require the Board to establish geographic sub-districts ("voting districts") from which Board members would be elected to offices with a four year term of office. Only voters who live in a specific voting district would be eligible to vote for the Board member from that voting district.

Only qualified voters from a voting district could run for the seat on the Board from that voting district. Measure A would be implemented as follows: seats 1, 3, 5, and 7 of the Board would be elected by voting district in 2013; and seats 2, 4, and 6 would be elected by voting district in 2015.

Every ten years, after the federal census, a redistricting process to recommend changes to boundaries of the voting districts would be completed by a Redistricting Commission comprised of: three residents of the City of Pasadena, appointed by the Pasadena City Council; three residents of the area served by the School District, appointed by the Board and who are not members of the Board; two residents of the Altadena area of Los Angeles County served by the School District, appointed by the County Supervisor(s) representing such area; and one resident of the City of Sierra Madre, appointed by the Sierra Madre City Council. No change in the boundary of any district would abolish or terminate the term of office of any then-current member of the Board prior to expiration of the term of the office for which the member was elected.

If Measure A does not pass, the Board will continue to be elected at large for numbered seats. Continuing to have an at large form of election has been asserted to violate the California Voting Rights Act (California Elections Code 14025-14032) for not providing proper representation of the diverse interests of the voters, and could result in potential liability for damages, fees and costs if it were challenged in court.

Measure A requires approval of a majority of voters. A "yes" vote for Measure A will support PUSD Board elections by voting districts; a "no" vote against Measure A will support Board elections from across the entire district.

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Arguments For Measure A Arguments Against Measure A
Do you want to bring more democracy and local control to the Pasadena Unified School District? If so, vote "Yes" on Measure A.

A diverse citizen task force has proposed a way to elect PUSD school board members that will give citizens a stronger voice in electing the board, save money on PUSD elections, and strengthen local control and grassroots democracy in Pasadena, Altadena, and Sierra Madre.

Currently, all School Board candidates run for office on a district-wide "at large" basis. Candidates who run for School Board have to raise a lot of money to reach voters in all three communities.

This ballot proposal will have School Board candidates elected from seven distinct, neighborhood-focused districts. There are many advantages to this system.
+ School Board members will be closer to neighborhoods, giving residents greater access to the Board and making the Board more responsive
+ It will be much less expensive to run for School Board, expanding the pool of potential candidates and giving more people the chance to serve the public in this way
+ The PUSD school district will save at least $200,000 every two years because of less expensive elections. That money can be re-directed to the classrooms
+ This proposal brings the PUSD School District into compliance with voting rights law to avoid costly lawsuits

This plan was developed by the citizen task force after more than 35 public meetings and numerous outreach events. There has been significant public input.

It is supported by a variety of residents, including Democrats, Republicans, and independents, civic and community leaders, business and cultural leaders, and PUSD parents.

To see the map of the seven districts proposed by the task force, go to this website:

Vote for more democracy and local control! Vote Yes for Measure A!

Mayor, City of Pasadena

Former Mayor, City of Sierra Madre

Past Chair, Pasadena Chamber of Commerce

Chair, Altadena Town Council

Pasadena Latino Coalition

Rebuttal to Arguments For
Measure A supporters falsely claim that it will "bring more democracy and local control".

In reality, it takes away your right to vote for all 7 school board members and gives you the right to vote for only 1 board member every four years.

Measure A drastically reduces your voting power by forcing you into a segregated political sub-district which will be drawn in large part based on someone's perception of your ethnicity.

Measure A's intended effect + to elect more minorities--will instead allow small political interest groups to control and dominate our schools.

Measure A supporters falsely claim it will give you "greater access" to the School Board.

In fact, because you will be allowed to vote for only 1 school board member instead of all 7, Measure A will guarantee that 6 of the 7 board members have no incentive to give you any consideration at all.

Our current at-large election system, which is identical to the method used in La Canada, South Pasadena, San Marino and Arcadia, ensures that every Board member is answerable to every voter, whoever they are and wherever they live.

Pasadena is a city of increasing diversity. Do you want your voting power reduced and your school board representation dominated by racial considerations? The current system, used successfully by high performing school districts all over California, forces each board member to serve the broader community rather than a segregated and isolated sub-district.

Measure A is a step backward for the PUSD. Vote No.

Former PUSD Board Member

Measure A will divide and polarize our community. Sub-district elections will cause division on the school board. Currently, members are accountable to voters throughout the PUSD. Why would rational voters or groups thereof give up their ability to influence the balance of power on the Board of Education every two years in exchange for the ability to elect just one board member every four years?

Given the concentration of students in Northwest Pasadena and West Altadena, sub-districts could not be designed to fairly apportion them. The uneven distribution of schools presents a similar problem. Indeed, it is probable that a majority under Measure A will come from areas which serve a very small portion of the student body.

To serve an at-large constituency, current board members have an incentive to focus on PUSD in its entirety, on students wherever they live. Sub-district elections will create a perverse incentive for politicians to focus solely on services to their own sub-districts. Even worse, it creates an incentive to form a coalition of four sub-districts to exploit the remaining three.

Do you actually believe it's a good idea to implement a system that creates a political incentive for a group of politicians to band together to rob resources from one portion of the District in favor of their own?

A coalition of just four people could decide to close schools in one sub-district and build new schools only in their own. They could decide to direct that their sub-districts receive the most experienced teaching staff.

Measure A has unintended consequences that could severely harm not just our public schools but the broader community.

As a past PUSD Board Member and PUSD administrator with decades of experience, I urge you to vote "No" on Measure A.

Former Board Member

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
Electing the School Board by neighborhood districts will:
+ Save the district more than $200,000 every election year + funds that will go into classrooms
+ Give voters a stronger voice by bringing the School Board closer to neighborhoods
+ Make the School Board more responsive and accountable to the community
+ Make it easier for individuals without much money to run for the School Board
+ Avoid costly lawsuits

This measure will save PUSD money, reduce the amount of political mail you receive, and make it easier for concerned citizens to run for a School Board seat.

A board elected by sub-districts will work together to form coalitions to get things done. If not, it will be easier for their constituents to vote them out of office.

District board members will be highly responsive to the needs of their districts.

They will also work with their colleagues to form coalitions and work in the interest of all students in the PUSD.

District elections will improve voters' oversight of their elected officials. It will bring more accountability and save the district from spending millions fighting needless lawsuits.

Measure A brings the whole system closer to the voter and saves a lot of money doing so.

Hundreds of hours were spent gathering input from PUSD residents. We drew a map that is fair and represents the communities of Pasadena, Altadena and Sierra Madre. To view all of the information and the map, go to:

Join our coalition. Vote Yes for Measure A.

General Secretary, Armenian Community Coalition

Pasadena NAACP

Executive Director, Pasadena Youth Center

Past President, Pasadena Unified School District Board

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Created: July 26, 2012 13:00 PDT
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