All of Pasco’s school board members live in the western end of the city.
That may change if the board gives the green light to study creating new school board districts.
Currently, all five are at-large positions, meaning every voter in the school district votes for all of the candidates.
It’s the same in every school district in the state, including Richland and Kennewick.
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But in some districts, such as Prosser, there’s an added requirement that the candidate live in a certain geographical area of the city.
Also, in Seattle, school board candidates in the primaries are chosen in specific districts of the city but then voted on by all voters in the general election, according to the Washington State School Directors Association.
Emily Maloney, a Pasco parent, brought her concerns to the Pasco School Board this summer, pointing out the board is not representative of the district.
“While I know that each of you is doing your best to represent all of Pasco, I believe it would be best to have representatives from central and east Pasco representing those neighborhoods,” said Maloney.
Her husband, Craig, is running for Pasco City Council. The city recently agreed as a result of a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington to eliminate all but one of its at-large council districts.
In Pasco, as well as in Yakima, the ACLU argued that the Latino populations were shut out of holding office because the districts were too broad.
While I know that each of you is doing your best to represent all of Pasco, I believe it would be best to have representatives from central and east Pasco representing those neighborhoods.
Emily Maloney, Pasco parent
More than 70 percent of the students in Pasco School District are Hispanic.
And with a lack of Hispanic members on the school board, Maloney was concerned the district was inviting a lawsuit.
State law allows the district to shift from an at-large system to a system where there are districts. They would need to put it in front of voters during a general election.
Several board members agreed this summer it should be looked into.
Sarah Thornton, the assistant superintendent of legal affairs, brought the issue back to the board earlier this week to gauge whether the board is still interested in pursing the issue.
While board members agreed to look into it, they did not discuss whether they should or shouldn’t put a measure on the ballot.
At this point, Thornton said she will likely bring back information about what the different districts around that state have done, and how the process of changing their current system could work.
No date was given for the next report.