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School Board Votes to Extend Current Terms

Mar 02, 2017 12:23PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
The Manhattan Beach Unified School District's school board voted unanimously on Wednesday night to extend its current board members' terms by one year, bringing the board into compliance with a new state election law by 2018.

MBUSD Superintendent Mike Matthews noted that the district's research showed that almost all of the surrounding school districts had already made the choice to extend its board members' terms.

"The thing I've learned is that the preponderance of districts are doing this simply because of the cost savings," said Matthews.

SB 415, which takes effect on January 1, 2018, requires school districts, (among other local public entities/municipalities) to hold elections on even years, if holding an election on a different date has previously resulted in depressed voter turnout. Since the voter turnout for MBUSD Board of Trustee elections has met this standard, MBUSD is therefore required to change its election cycle.

The two choices before the board were 1) to extend the current board members' terms by one year, which would put MBUSD in compliance by November 2018; or 2) to extend  the board terms of future board members, which would put the board in compliance by November 2022.

In researching what other districts have done, MBUSD found that 34 out of 36 other local districts had voted to extend current board members' terms to 2018. Of the remaining two, one of those districts was already in compliance, and one district's election will be decided by city charter.

The reasons given for extending current terms were that 1) It puts districts into compliance sooner (November, 2018); 2) It more quickly allows the public greater influence, because of the higher turnout in an even year election; and 3) It saves district dollars – estimated between $75,000 and $200,000, as even year elections with more items on the ballot are less expensive for school districts to hold.

Matthews noted that the district had put out a press release and he had written about the issue in his newsletter, as well as getting coverage in DigMB, but he had gotten very little feedback. "It's been very quiet," he said.

With the resolution, the election date for MBUSD school board members will be moved from November of odd years to November of even years, beginning in 2018.

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