A new redistricting map for the San Diego Unified School District that would create more voting sub-districts in which the majority is people of color is creating controversy among parents.
Redistricting happens every 10 years after the census. As San Diego has changed over the last 10 years, so too have the size and makeup of San Diego Unified’ s sub-districts -- A through E.
“We now have significant disparity in total population, so that three districts north of [Interstate 8] have a larger population than the two districts south of [I-8],” SDUSD Board President Richard Barrera.
He said the goal of redistricting is to not only balance the total population among all districts, but also to keep neighborhoods or communities of interest together and have diverse representation.
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“White people in total represent a little under 40% of the population throughout San Diego Unified,” Barrera said. “And certainly about three-quarters of students in our district are students of color. I think the committee is trying to create five districts that, again, more accurately represent the overall diversity of San Diego Unified.”
Why is that important? Besides decisions about curriculum and budgets, the board also makes decisions about where resources go. In a district with a high percentage of students living in poverty, students who are English language learners and students with other challenges, a diverse board is needed, Barrera said.
“You want a board that gets it. You want a board that understands the needs of our students and can make those decisions based on needs, as opposed to a board that is distant from the reality of where our student live," he said.
Currently there are two sub-districts that are majority white. In the map presented to the board Tuesday night, one of those sub-districts will remain majority white and the other will become a district that has a white population just under 50%, making it a majority-minority district.
Scripps Ranch is currently in sub-district B, but under the proposed map it would move to sub-district A.
“The main pain today is Scripps Ranch wouldn’t get a vote,” said Marlon Gardinera, a Scripps Ranch resident and football coach at Scripps Ranch High.
He said the redistricting change would also mean Scripps Ranch residents would not get to vote for school board until 2024, and he would not be able to run for school board in sub-district B as he had hoped.
“San Diego is one of those places where I think a minority can run in a majority white district and win," Gardinera, who is Black, said. “The idea you have to manipulate it to keep that from happening… it’s too much. It’s government manipulation.”
“The redistricting process cannot be concerned about incumbents and should not be concerned about where a candidate lives,” said Andrea Guerrero, the executive director of Alliance San Diego, a nonprofit promoting inclusive democrac. Guerrero is also a member of the committee that helped draw the proposed redistricting map.
“The redistricting process should only be concerned with equal representation, making sure that the five districts are equally balanced in population and also that they are contiguous.”
She noted Scripps Ranch is separated from those in its sub-district by an air field, and a goal of redistricting is to keep communities of interest together.
Guerrero is a parent of a student in sub-district D, south of I-8.
“I, as a parent, want to know the school board members reflect the area where I live and they are sharing my voice, so redistricting is the opportunity to make sure that happens," she said.
Gardinera is a parent of students in sub-district B, north of Interstate 8.
"The idea that a government agency can manipulate outcomes essentially for future elections doesn’t always work in favor of people of color, so when you see it happen supposedly in the name of people of color, it’s equally concerning for me, to have an entity decide that fate," he said.
The board is scheduled to vote on the redistricting map Dec. 14.