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The Student News Site of Fremont High School

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The Phoenix

The Student News Site of Fremont High School

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  • The Phoenix would like to thank the Assistance League of Los Altos for their valuable donation to keep our newspaper running. With their assistance, we will be able to print quality issues that reflect the interests of Fremont High School and the wider community.
The Student News Site of Fremont High School

The Phoenix

Redrawing district borders

Graphic by Molly Bobick

On Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, the FUHSD Board of Trustees held a meeting discussing the district transition from at-large elections to by-area elections for board members, where members of the community voiced their concerns and asked questions about the process. 

Throughout the history of FUHSD, new board members have been elected at-large by residents of the entire district — school and district staff, administration, parents and any voter who lives within FUHSD. This means that each resident votes for as many candidates as there are empty spots on the Board of Trustees. For example, if there were two trustee members’ terms that ran out that election year, each voter would select two candidates to vote for. In 2001, the California Voting Rights Act was passed. The law’s purpose is to prevent minority groups from being disenfranchised by at-large elections diluting their votes. The CVRA offers by-area elections as a legal alternative to at-large elections. FUHSD intends to transition to by-area elections in order to comply with the CVRA, meaning that each resident will vote for one representative for the area that they live in, instead of voting for five different representatives. 

FHS history teacher Geoff Beckstrom stated that FUHSD has dealt with the same underrepresentation that the CVRA hopes to prevent. Specifically, since 1970, four zip codes have never had a representative out of the 10 zip codes in FUHSD.

“All the members of the Board of Trustees have come from the southern end of Sunnyvale, the more affluent end of Sunnyvale, as well as from Cupertino,” Beckstrom said. “And to their credit, our Board of Trustees right now has taken steps to say ‘okay, well, that’s not quite right.’” 

Issues that affect underrepresented students, like transportation from the northern reaches of Sunnyvale to FHS, often do not get resolved by the board. Thus, students continue to struggle, as there are few options for transportation, FUHSD student board representative and HHS student Elisabeth Floyd said.

“It’s a big issue and it just hasn’t been worked on in the school board because most of them live in Cupertino and then like two live in Southern Sunnyvale,” Floyd said. “And so that’s an issue that’s been in there for who knows how long right but it has just never really been addressed.”

Students who live in north Sunnyvale have limited options for transportation. Most parents are unwilling to drive long distances to take their children to school, and the only alternative is an almost hour-long bus ride. 

“[Transportation has] always been controversial in our district from the first day I worked here,” Beckstrom said. “It has always been a point of discussion and consternation, and the whole [giving] people bus passes to make up for that is obviously limp.”

The CVRA was passed in 2001, but the Board of Trustees did not announce their intent to switch to by-area elections until March of 2023. In recent years, more school districts have faced litigation, or threat of litigation for not complying with the CVRA. FUHSD hopes to avoid costly lawsuits by making the change to by-area elections. 

“I don’t know why it took that long,” FUHSD Board of Trustees president Jeff Moe said. “But now it’s very much a thing in organizations throughout the state, governmental units throughout the state are being pushed in that direction. And moving in that direction quickly.”

Floyd stated that while advocates of the by-area election mostly live in northern Sunnyvale, most opposition to the by-area elections are residents of Cupertino. 

“There’s definitely a geographical divide,” Floyd said. “As for Northern Sunnyvale and a lot of Sunnyvale, we haven’t had as many representatives and there’s a lot of issues that haven’t been talked about. So getting that representation is a big appeal, so I think that leads to a lot more support.”

Both sides of this geographical divide expressed their arguments to the FUHSD Board of Trustees at the meeting on Feb. 27, 2024. One group appeared at the meeting, holding up signs that read “Request to postpone by-trustee” and “Request to add postpone by-trustee on meeting agenda.” They held the signs up throughout the meeting and as they made public comments. One common concern expressed by Lynbrook High School and Monta Vista High School parents was the lack of outreach by the Community Trustee Area Districting Committee, whose purpose is to communicate the change to parents of current or future FUHSD students. 

“Why are families in Cupertino and West San Jose treated as second-class citizens?” one speaker said. “A much higher density of Asian voters protected under CVRA reside in these two areas. Why are Asian families treated as second-class citizens?”

Another major concern expressed by parents was that LHS could be closed in the future due to low enrollment across FUHSD. Two elementary schools in the Cupertino area have been closed recently due to low enrollment. 

“I have been in this community for 16 years, initially for the John Muir elementary school,” one speaker said. “They said they are not going to close it, and what happened? It’s closed. And the Meyerholz elementary school, they [said], ‘it’s not going to close,’ and what happened? It’s closed.”

However, the board has repeatedly stated that they do not intend to close a school. Demographers’ projections for future enrollment are healthy enough to keep all five schools open. Additionally, the board aims to balance the number of students at each school, rather than allowing one school’s enrollment to dip below the rest. 

“I wish I could assure everybody, and I’m very confident in saying this, there are no plans to close the schools,” Moe said. “The school district has a great plan in place of trying to balance the enrollment throughout the class.”

On the other hand, northern Sunnyvale residents urged the Board of Trustees to continue the transition process. They expressed their excitement for more representation on the Board of Trustees. 

“I’ve been driving from downtown Sunnyvale to that farthest corner of our [Sunnyvale] district as well as the Fremont Union High School District for the last 10 years and I am so excited for my friends and neighbors who this move to trustee areas is going to literally give them a seat at the table; a seat up on the dias,” one Sunnyvale resident said. 

Sunnyvale residents also discussed their points of view on the Cupertino residents’ concerns about school closures. They highlighted that perspectives from all areas of the district would ensure that the concerns held by each community would be addressed.

“I would argue that trustee areas are more likely to keep schools open because each community within the district will have a voice on the board,” a Sunnyvale resident said. “The board will necessarily be aware of the challenges of the more rural areas of the district, such as Monta Vista. It will have more insight into the safety issues for getting to school in denser neighborhoods.”

On March 20, 2024, another Board of Trustees meeting will be held to discuss possible map options. On April 24, 2024, another meeting will be held, where the Board of Trustees will choose the map to be used for the by-area elections. In the Nov. 2024 election, two by-area trustees will appear on the ballot. After the 2026 election, the board will have fully transitioned to by-area elections, and all members of the board will have been voted by-area.

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About the Contributor
Molly Bobick
Molly Bobick, Online Editor
Molly Bobick is a sophmore and Online Editor for the Phoenix. In her spare time, she enjoys surfing, reading and lifeguarding. She is also part of the softball and cross-country teams at Fremont.

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