Five school board seats up in election
By TERRY NGUYEN
Twelve candidates have filed their intent to run for school board in a special circumstance election that opens up five board member seats, compared to the usual two to three.
However, many residents — and even some school board candidates — have expressed confusion about the new election district boundaries, which are being used for the first time during this election cycle.
Two school board districts, Districts 3 and 4, will have their primaries on June 26 in order to narrow down the number of candidates. The general election will occur on November 6.
The county was ordered to redraw its five school voting districts in 2017 to better comply with the “one-man, one-vote” principle for each district’s population. The new districts are now more equal in size, each representing roughly 2,850 people.
Since 1984, the San Juan County School District has been divided into five voting districts, each represented by one school board member. School board members work closely with the superintendent and as an overall board to address local school issues.
District 1, the northernmost district, has remained relatively unchanged throughout the redistricting process. It contains La Sal Elementary, Monticello Elementary and Monticello High. Similarly, District 4 is still comprised of Montezuma Creek School and Whitehorse High.
The most drastic shift in schools occurred in District 2 and 3. District 2 lost Blanding Elementary, reducing it to Albert R. Lyman Middle and San Juan High. District 3 lost Bluff Elementary and contains solely Blanding Elementary. District 5 expanded, now covering Bluff Elementary,Tse’bii’nidzisgai Elementary, Monument Valley High and Navajo Mountain High.
Bernard Grofman, a University of California, Irvine professor and expert on redistricting, was appointed by a federal judge to redraw the districts’ lines. In his special master’s report to the county, Grofman wrote that he worked to keep four of the largest county high schools in separate districts and to preserve certain catchment areas or “feeder systems”.
The county hoped to preserve these “feeder systems,” so students would attend primary schools and secondary schools within the same school voting districts, according to Superintendent Ron Nielson.
But Grofman noted that he found it difficult to keep some schooling areas together, specifically in Blanding, which “exceeds that of an ideally sized school board district.”
“The priority that needed to be accorded to constitutional and statutory requirements, such as equal population, made it impossible for me to fully mesh all school pupil catchment areas with school board districts,” Grofman wrote in the report.
Represents voters whose students may attend La Sal Elementary, Monticello Elementary and Monticello High. This district will not have a primary race, since Maughan is the only candidate running.
Represents voters whose students may attend Blanding Elementary School, Albert R. Lyman Middle School, and San Juan High School. This district will not have a primary race.
Merri B. Shumway
Represents areas of Aneth, Bluff, Montezuma Creek and Tselakai Dezza. There will be a Democratic primary on June 26. There is no Republican candidate in the race.
Represents voters whose students may attend from Montezuma Creek Elementary, Whitehorse High, Monticwello Elementary, and Monticello High schools. This district will have a primary on June 26. The two candidates who receive the most votes in the primary will be on the ballot in November.
Melvin Capitan Jr.
Represents voters whose students may attend nine schools, including schools in Navajo Mountain, Monument Valley, Bluff, Blanding and Monticello.