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Citizens Ask Garland ISD Board Of Trustees To Abolish At-Large Districting

A proposition paper was read at the Garland ISD School Board meeting on September 23,  asking the trustees’ future consideration in abolishing the at-large school board seats and creating seven single member districts. This comes on the heels of the Irving ISD school board’s decision to abolish the remainder of their at-large seats.
(You can read about Irving here.)

The body of the paper reads:

“I had a question (or concern) regarding the schools, but I didn’t know who to talk to.” This sentiment, or frustration, is entirely too common among the citizenry served by the Garland ISD school board. That shouldn’t be the case. With the exception of the Garland ISD Board of Trustees we live in a community served by single district representation at the city, county and state levels. If there is an issue in our neighborhood which needs attention we know with which city council member to meet. If we want to champion positive change in our community we know to call our Mayor. If we see something out of order in our county we have a specific commissioner whom we can contact. If we have a concern that requires action by the State of Texas we know which State Representative or State Senator to contact. If we take issue with Federal policy we know which congressman we can write to voice our displeasure. Even at the highest office in the land the boundaries are clearly defined.  

Presently the Garland ISD Board of Trustees is a somewhat unique body that is comprised of 7 members who are all elected at large. This equates to a single, multimember district. At the time the seven member school board was formed in 1901 the entire population of Garland was under a thousand people. Today our high schools teem with over a thousand students each. Garland has evolved into a thriving, dynamic community while the structure of the school board has remained static. This antiquated multimember district fosters systemic confusion and inefficiency. In a multimember district each trustee represents the entirety of the district. This complicates the ability of the voter to have a dialogue with a trustee because they don’t know which trustee represents them, or has their best interest at heart. In addition, it complicates the ability of the trustee to understand the needs of the constituents who are comprised of wonderfully diverse economic and cultural backgrounds. By comparison, single district representation focuses the attention of the trustee on a much smaller segment of the electorate.  With single district representation it is much easier for a trustee to know the will of the constituents and much easier for the constituents to be heard.  Implementing single district representation would mean that each trustee would represent a much more manageable segment of the population, that being just under 15% of the total district. Likewise, each citizen would know exactly who to call when they had a question or concern.  Also it is possible in a multimember district for all of the board members to come from one city, or worse yet, one city block within the GISD.  This is certainly something that impedes diversity instead of promoting broad-based inclusion and representation of the electorate.

A government which governs closest to the people is always the most responsive government which is why all of our other political representation is done through single member districts.   Let’s all come together and get this out of date system reformed to single member districts for all of the reasons above and to also be in line with all of our other representative bodies.  This reform is in the best interest of the children, the taxpayers, and our great representatives on the school board who give their time graciously.  

We request that the Garland Independent School District be divided into 7 districts with a single representative elected from each, and that no representatives be elected at large. We request that the term of office shall remain three years, and that there be no restrictions or term limits preventing a Board Member from continual service, if their district so chooses.  We further request that the current school board votes to enact this redistricting policy themselves, and that the enactment of the redistricting policy begin concurrently with the next election as the current board members’ terms begin to expire.

This is an effort by the citizenry of Garland to ensure that the composition of the Garland ISD School Board is reflective of, and responsive to the community which it serves.

A petition drive is underway to assure that a voter referendum is on the May, 2015 ballot should the School Board decide not to act of their own volition.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014