On a 4-1 vote, Saugus Union School District board members decided this week they want to move their school board elections from odd- to even-numbered years to line up with the general election.
“It’s a huge cost savings, and the intention is to cast a broader net of voters in Santa Clarita,” said board President Judy Umeck.
The next step is for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to approve the move before it can become official.
In addition to saving the district tens of thousands of dollars in election costs, the change also addresses a potential issue that has been brought up in Antelope Valley, where Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris is suing the city of Palmdale, which has a school that bears his name, over the California Voters Rights Act.
Parris announced last month that he has signed on as co-counsel for a voting rights lawsuit brought against Palmdale over the California Voter Rights Act.
The CVRA is legislation that was signed into law in 2002, recently upheld as a constitutional extension of the Voter Rights Act of 1965.
The move is meant to help minority voters who sued over disenfranchisement with the electoral process, citing a lack of representation in elections.
The current board reflects the demographics of Saugus Union’s constituency, Umeck said, but it was a proactive move.
“What we are doing is addressing the concern,” Umeck said.
One of the concerns brought up by board member Stephen Winkler, who cast the lone dissenting vote, was that it would lessen the attention to school elections.
“That was a concern that was brought up,” Umeck said. “But we have a community that’s very involved in the education of their kids.
“I would say the percentage of voters that come out do not reflect the level of involvement of parents in our schools.”
The move, if approved, would also extends the terms of its current board members by a year.
Umeck, Paul De La Cerda and Doug Bryce would be up for election in 2014; Winkler and Rose Koscielny would be up for election in 2016.
The governing board of the William S. Hart Union High School District made a similar move earlier this month, also on a 4-1 vote.