Amarillo’s public school trustees are going to meet tonight to “discuss” possible changes in the way they get elected.
The item was proposed by Amarillo Independent School District Trustee James Allen, the board’s lone African-American.
There might be a move toward electing trustees from single-member districts. Or — if very recent history is a guide — there will be virtually no change.
Given the way the AISD board choked on a measure to rename Robert E. Lee Elementary School, I won’t bet the farm that the board will change, at least not right away.
AISD trustees had a chance to rename the school named after a Confederate army general who fought to preserve slavery in the nation. The school sits in a neighborhood populated by African-American residents. What did the board do? It took the name “Robert E.” off the school and named it only “Lee Elementary School.”
As if that is meaningful?
Well, now the board is considering — maybe, possibly — moving from a cumulative voting system to a plan that elects trustees from single-member districts. The aim, as I understand it, would be to spread representation to all neighborhoods. The current board currently resides mostly in southwest Amarillo and the tony Wolflin neighborhood; only two trustees live in north or east Amarillo.
Cumulative voting was created as a compromise to settle a lawsuit brought by the League of United Latin-American Citizens, which sought to force AISD to get more minority representation on its board. Cumulative voting allows voters to cast ballots proportionately. For example: If three seats are up for election, voters can cast all three votes for a single candidate; or they can cast two for one and one for another; or … they can cast single ballots for each of the candidates.
AISD trustees now are going to begin the discussion about possible changes in the district’s voting plan.
It’s a fascinating idea that, given the changing demographics of Amarillo, could be implemented with great success. AISD could have representation from all neighborhoods on the board that sets public education policy. Every neighborhood deserves have a voice. Let’s face it: The desires of Sleepy Hollow residents are significantly different from those who live in The North Heights.
To paraphrase the song: The times may be a changin’.
Or, given AISD’s recent history, maybe not.