A Los Angeles school board redistricting proposal unveiled Friday would create a new Latino-dominated district and set up an election battle next year between incumbents now representing the Westside and San Fernando Valley.
Reaction to the plan was swift and strong: Latino groups embraced it while San Fernando Valley-based school activists complained that it was divisive.
The plan is being sponsored by City Council President John Ferraro and Councilman Richard Alatorre, a past master of redistricting debates and controversies.
Latinos called the proposal historic because it creates a second Latino-dominated district. "This is a good plan for Latinos. We support it," said Marshall Diaz, co-chair of a coalition of Latino groups involved in the redistricting.
One of the two districts, now represented by board member Leticia Quezada, would be extended from the Eastside, including Boyle Heights, to Sylmar in the Valley.
The other, which like Quezada's district has a 47% Latino population, would include the Central City and the southeast communities of Vernon, Bell, Cudahy, Huntington Park and Maywood. Because no incumbent holds this seat, which will be up for grabs in the April, 1993, election, Latino aspirants will soon have a chance to fill it, said Nancy Ramirez, attorney for the
Perhaps the most controversial feature of the plan is its placement of two board members in the same district. Mark Slavkin, who represents the Westside, would have to take on Julie Korenstein, who represents the West Valley, in the April elections.
Korenstein complained that the proposal would split Valley representation among four board members. The area is currently represented by Korenstein and Roberta Weintraub. But districts now represented by Quezada and Jeff Horton would also claim part of the Valley under the new plan.
"The Valley's going to be the orphan," Korenstein said. "You can't have the Valley represented by board members who live in the city and don't know what our problems are."
Korenstein also took exception to combining her district with Slavkin's. She said the Westside has little in common with the Valley.
Cecelia Mansfield, a vice president of the Valley-based 31st District Parent Teacher Student Assn., said the plan was an illogical "hatchet job" that hurts the Valley.
Cindy Wong, president of the 10th District Parent Teacher Student Assn., said: "We don't have much in common with the Valley."
Slavkin, however, said he could live with the proposal. "I don't look forward to running against a colleague, but this plan does more to keep the Westside together than other plans had--and that's what I've been advocating," he said.
The council's ad hoc redistricting committee is to discuss the plan Monday and Ferraro hopes to have the full council adopt a new plan for the school district by Friday.
Times education writer Jean Merl contributed to this story.