Clint ISD board rejects demand for single-member representation

EL PASO, Texas -
Clint ISD is an at-large voting district. For the last 20 years, the majority of trustees, six out of seven, have been from the Clint area, even though about 85 percent of the students live in Montana Vista and Horizon City.

The issue came up at Wednesday's board meeting and trustees debated switching school board elections to single-member representation.

Over a hundred students and parents attended the meeting, all wearing red -- the color of the martyr. Some have been fighting to make Clint a single-member district for over a decade. But in a 5-1 vote, with one abstaining, trustees voted to keep the at-large voting system.

"One of the constant sources of frustration for parents is the quality of eduation in the schools," said Rev. Ed Roden-Lucero.

"You can compare Clint High school to Mountain View and Horizon," said Marlene Arellanes. "Mountain View and Horizon don't have as many programs as Clint High School does."

Roden-Lucero and Arellanes claim that because six of the seven school board members come from Clint, Clint High receives more money and better education than Mountain View and Horizon High.

Trustee Patricia Randeel, a former mayor in the area, and the only board member from Horizon City, was the only vote in favor of a single-member system. She told the board tonight this issue brought back memories of the Civil Rights era when she and other African-Americans fought for voting rights.

But her speech didn't move the six other board members who cited a number of reasons for keeping the at-large system, namely that single member district encourage infighting and instead of working together, trustees would be fighting over funding. Trustee Robert Lara said the board is united in spending money where it's needed.

Another argument the board made was that single-member districts limit the talent pool. County Commissioner Vince Perez called that comment offensive, and representative of how the board views the areas outside of Clint.

Perez said if they were to vote for a single-member system, many of the members would have to give up their seat in the November 2014 election, something they may not be willing to do.

The board said trustees can be more representational if more people from Montana Vista and Horizon City were to vote.  

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