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CJ Cammack

Sue Casey
Executive Assistant to the Superintendent

MUSD Connects

Superintendent's Monthly Message - December 2017

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MUSD Community, 

Three weeks until the winter break; time sure flies when you’re having fun!  As we embark on the season of giving, I am hopeful each of you can  share your time and your blessings with those you love.  As we open 2018 with open arms, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all the amazing staff in Martinez Unified.  I am sure you see their amazing work on a daily basis, and it is my distinct pleasure to serve our talented staff, incredible students, and our supportive community.  Happy Holidays from the Cammack family to you and your families.

We have many exciting developments across MUSD as we head toward the winter break.   One of the most exciting developments is related to the future reconstruction of John Muir Elementary School thanks to the support from our community and the passage of Measure R.  Recently,  we have been holding meetings with a subcommittee of John Muir parents, staff members,  administrators, and two members of our Board of Education to engage in discussions and to give input regarding  different plan designs for the reconstruction of John Muir Elementary School.  The generosity of our community and their support for Measure R are the reasons  we are able to move in this direction, and there are many more exciting elements for our other elementary schools in the future.

Along with these developments, and the continued successes of our students, there are other changes taking place within MUSD, and I want to be sure our community is well informed about these issues.  As such, the remainder of this newsletter will be dedicated to providing information about recent actions and developments within MUSD regarding the process we use to elect the five  members of our Board of Education.

As a starting point, it is important to note that MUSD is governed by five elected officials who make up our Board of Education.  The Board of Education has many responsibilities; some the most prominent roles are to set policy for the operations of the district, establish direction and provide leadership of the instructional program and curriculum, make decisions related to budget development and adoption, and also hire the superintendent and evaluate his or her  performance.  

You may have read in local media outlets about Martinez Unified and the California Voting Rights Act.  If you havn’t, not to worry; I am hopeful the information included below will provide you all the information you may need.



MUSD takes first steps towards a new election model for Board of Education

Historically MUSD has elected board members by allowing the entire MUSD community to vote for whom they would like to elect.  The candidates  with the highest number of votes in each election would be awarded a position on the Board of Education.  This election model is referred to as an “at large election”.  A Board member is elected to a four-year term.  During a special board meeting tonight, our Board of Education passed a resolution stating their intent to begin the process of changing how we elect Board of Education members within our community. Moving forward, five regions of equal population will be established within MUSD.  Each newly established “area” will elect a board member.  This election model is referred to as a “trustee area-based election”.  As you may already understand, this “area” based model is what we use at the state and federal level to elect our respective representatives to serve in Sacramento or in Washington, D.C.   What brought about this change, why change now, and what does this all mean? Great questions, and here is some information to help this make more sense.  

Why the change?

Recently, our district received a letter from an attorney in Malibu, California alleging that our current method of elections may be in violation of the California Voters Rights Act and may create racially polarized voting.  Currently, as do almost all the other school districts in Contra Costa County, our community elects our five board members from across the entire region of our school district boundaries.

As an organization, Martinez Unified desires  practices, procedures, and actions that  are inclusive of all members in our community.  Additionally, we always strive to  be in full compliance with all laws related to our public education system as well as related laws involving the election of our governance team.

The California Voting Rights Act discourages public agencies from this “at large” election model.  Public agencies that use an “at large” elections model are subject to legal challenges which can cost millions of dollars to fight and have not been successfully defended in court.  The receipt of a letter from an attorney in Malibu is a precursor to future legal action that this individual and his clients would  take again MUSD.

Once presented with the letter, MUSD had to decide if we wanted to fight this in court, spending possibly over a million dollars in the court system, which would have to be paid for from our general fund.  Or, the District had to decide to make a change to our elections process within a specific timeline, which is 90 days.

In passing the resolution tonight, the Board of Education took the first step in moving toward a new election model.  Additionally, the Board of Education took action to protect our limited fiscal resources and spend money educating our students, not fighting a battle in court.

What will making this change cost?

There is a provision in the law which allows a public agency, such as MUSD, to decide to change their election method within a specified time window and cap the fees charged by the Malibu attorney at $30,000.  It seems counterintuitive to say “only” $30,000, however, the other scenario would be to fight the issue through the court systems, and there is no limit to expenses in that circumstance.  Other public agencies have spent millions of dollars fighting this in the court system only to lose and be required by the courts to change their elections model.

Making this change within the specified timeline, we would not subject MUSD to millions of dollars in unbudgeted expenses.  However, there will still be a very significant impact on our general fund.  My early estimates indicate that the entire process, with associated legal fees, demographic studies, and other related work, could cost the District $90,000 on the low end, but likely the costs may exceed $125,000.  As is the case with all financial aspects of a public school district, limitations on funding ultimately limit the depth and breadth of the quality programs we can offer our wonderful students and dedicated staff.  This unbudgeted expense will present an even greater challenge to our current fiscal picture. 

What does this actually change?

With this change, there will be five specific voting regions established within Martinez Unified. Each individual region will then elect one member of the Board of Education.  You may be wondering how the five new regions will be established.  The Board of Education will engage in a process over the next few months of using demographers to help create “draft” maps of the five newly established regions, while ensuring they are equal in terms of total population.  There are many public hearings required within this change  process, and we welcome the input and involvement of our community.

Additionally, you may be aware that the City of Martinez is facing this identical challenge to their election process, from the same attorney.  It is important to note that should the City of Martinez decide to change their elections model, our newly established regions will be different from the ones the City of Martinez may establish.  As you likely know, there are areas within Martinez that do not fall within MUSD attendance boundaries.  The new regions to be established for MUSD will be specific to the region within our MUSD attendance boundaries.

Some of you may be wondering if this may change the current boundaries for our four elementary schools.  No, the attendance boundaries will remain in place across all schools.  Additionally, the change in an election model for the district will require five newly established regions.  Our elementary school boundaries match our number of elementary schools, which is  four.

Using simple numbers, here is an example of what the newly established voting area might look like.  If there are 20,000 people in the MUSD attendance area, we would create five separate voting regions within our district, with each voting area  consisting of  4,000 people.

When will this take effect?

The process for changing to a “trustee area” elections model will be completed within the required 90 days. The first election cycle where this will be noticed by MUSD voters is in November of 2018.  The change to a new elections model will not remove any of our current Board of Education members from their elected position. The newly established voting regions will be applied to upcoming elections in their normal cycle.

What if I still have more questions?

We are here to help; please feel free to contact my office at your convenience.

CJ Cammack LogoSincerely, 

CJ Cammack, Superintendent
Martinez Unified School District


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Upcoming Events


Dec 11

AHS Jazz Concert 7:00 p.m

Dec 13

MJHS Winter Concert 7:00 p.m.

Dec 19 AHS Winter Concert 7:00 p.m.
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Winter Break

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Jan 16 - 19

AHS Finals

Jan 22

TK-12 Teacher Work Day/CSEA

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