Steve Zimmer takes the oath of office for the LA Unified school board
The Los Angeles City Council is considering a measure that would extend the terms of the next school board election winners to 5 1/2 years, from the usual 4.
The longer terms would only apply to the next two school board voting cycles, bringing the board elections into even-numbered years that correspond with other city and state elections.
The change is part of the city’s effort to enhance voter turnout by consolidating elections. Because of periodic orphan scheduling, school board seats are sometimes filled with only a small percentage of registered voters determining the outcome.
In the case of George McKenna’s runoff victory over Alex Johnson for the District 1 seat in August, just 9 percent of the district’s voters cast ballots. In 2013, only 23 percent of voters citywide participated in the mayoral election.
Several steps remain before the new schedule goes into effect. The City Council is expected to vote on Wednesday to ask the City Attorney to write an ordinance that would appear on the March 3, 2015 ballot, effectively changing the City Charter.
Then the council would have to approve the wording, probably by the end of the month, for the measure to seek final approval from voters.
The first group of school board members to be affected would be McKenna, Tamar Galatzan, Bennett Kayser and Richard Vladovic, as well as their challengers, in a primary scheduled for the same day.
Members up for election in 2017 — Monica Garcia, Steve Zimmer and Monica Ratliff — would also win the longer terms.
The proposed measure might give any candidate pause, considering the additional time commitment for very small renumeration: For a board member who has no other full-time job, like McKenna, the annual salary is $45,637. For a member who also works elsewhere, like Galatzan, an assistant city attorney, the reward is $26,347 annually.