IRVING (CBSDFW.COM) – Nearly 85 percent of students in the Irving Independent School District are minorities, and yet every elected school board member is white. Many parents say the equation doesn’t add up.
“The school board right now, celebrates a lot of diversity. I see people of many ages. I see people of different genders. But one thing I don’t see are faces of different colors,” says resident Susan Motley.
A modest crowd gathered at the Irving High School auditorium Thursday night for the first of three public hearings on whether the school district should continue to elect its school board members through at-large elections.
The alternative would be to divide the city into districts, so candidates need only to campaign for voters in their own districts.
Those who oppose single-member districts say every voter in Irving should have a say on who sits on the board. “I want everybody accountable to all of us,” says resident Lucia Rottenberg.
“I believe that we need to have accountability from all voters to all members of the school board,” adds resident Bob Harper.
Supporters of the individual member district idea say it allows for better representation on the board because minorities would likely run in minority districts.
“I believe that it will give the best chance of representation for people of all stripes. At-large voting can allow for nepotism, conflicts of interest and less checks and balances,” says resident Emmanuel Lewis Jr.
Others want a compromise. They want to establish districts, while setting aside two or three spots on the board for at-large candidates.
Two options are being discussed. One is to establish seven districts. The other would set up five districts, while setting aside two spots for at-large candidates.
There are two more public hearings set for Monday and Tuesday. The board is expected to vote on the issue on January 12.