The Long Beach Unified School District on Wednesday revealed three possible redistricting scenarios as it continues to redraw the areas its school board members represent.

The redrawn district maps are based on newly released 2020 U.S. Census data. A final map, which determines what geographic portion of the city each school board member represents, must be completed before next year’s school board elections.

The district has five areas that are represented by elected school board trustees: Megan Kerr in District 1, Erik Miller in District 2, Juan Benitez in District 3, Doug Otto in District 4 and Diana Craighead in District 5. Areas 1, 2, and 3 in the north, west and Downtown areas are up for election on June 7, 2022, with a possible runoff in November.

The school board was presented with three scenarios for redrawn districts on Wednesday, and members plan to make their decision on the new map boundaries during their Dec. 1 meeting. The board would then send its proposed map to the City Council for approval on Dec. 7.

See the current and proposed maps below. Click each one to enlarge:

The current districts for LBUSD’s five school board members. Courtesy LBUSD.
The first scenario proposed by a consultant to redraw LBUSD school board district lines based on new U.S. Census data. Courtesy LBUSD.
The second scenario proposed by a consultant to redraw LBUSD school board district lines based on new U.S. Census data. Courtesy LBUSD.
The third scenario proposed by a consultant to redraw LBUSD school board district lines based on new U.S. Census data. Courtesy LBUSD.

Changes to the district map will not affect where a child attends school. They only affect what school board race residents vote in and ultimately which member represents them.

Justin Rich, vice president of MuniBase, the firm that’s assisting the district with the redistricting process, presented the three possible scenarios to the board. Board Member Megan Kerr signaled her initial support for one of the proposed maps, based on its adherence to Long Beach’s existing neighborhood structure.

“I really appreciate concept two from a neighborhood perspective,” Kerr said. “As someone who has spent my whole life here, we know that if someone says they’re from Long Beach, they get one of two questions: What high school did they go to or what neighborhood do they live in. We really are a city of neighborhoods.”

The board will continue to seek public comment and feedback on the new district maps. However, the process has been accelerated due to delays in Census data, leaving less time available for public comment and feedback.

During the meeting, school board President Juan Benitez shared his concerns about the condensed time frame. He urged his fellow board members to engage with members of the community that have been historically underrepresented.

“We have to educate our community for two reasons. One, for them to feel compelled to participate in this process because that should be guiding what map we approve here and what we recommend to the district,” Benitez said. “And two, do everything we can over the next two weeks as part of that education process, to provide opportunities for them to provide input. Otherwise, we’re perpetuating the inequity of historically underserved, marginalized, disengaged, voiceless communities.”

Benitez went on to stress the consequences of the redistricting decisions, which could leave residents with a new school board representative without their knowledge or input.

“I’m passionate about this because when we talk about equity, when we talk about acknowledgment of historical inequities, this is the way it happens,” he said.

During Wednesday night’s school board meeting, the city of Long Beach’s redistricting commission was also meeting at City Hall, seeking public comment on the newly proposed district maps for City Council districts. That made it quite a challenge for any residents hoping to share comments on both redistricting processes.

The school board’s proposed redistricting maps are currently available on the LBUSD website, with links to provide feedback in both English, Spanish and Khmer.

Unlike the LBUSD, the city of Long Beach is using a newly established independent commission to redraw its City Council district boundaries.

The next LBUSD Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Nov. 3.