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Los Angeles

Council Committee Backs New School Board Map

May 24, 2002|DAVID PIERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A City Council panel voted Thursday to recommend a map of new school board district boundaries that has drawn charges of disenfranchising the San Fernando Valley.

The map, approved 3 to 2 by the council's Ad Hoc Committee on Redistricting, will be considered by the full council on Tuesday. The Los Angeles Board of Education district boundaries, which are redrawn every 10 years to reflect demographic shifts, must be approved by July 1.

The boundaries, originally drawn by an appointee of school board President Caprice Young, were presented last month to the council committee by the Los Angeles Redistricting Commission for the L.A. Unified School District.

The commission, made up of appointees of council members, school board members and the mayor, voted 9 to 6 in March for the map, favored by Young, amid accusations of behind-the-scenes politicking.

The map calls for creation of a school board seat that would combine southwest Valley communities such as Woodland Hills and Encino with West L.A.

The recommended map will fuel the secessionist movement, said board member Julie Korenstein, who had championed a map that would have put the Cahuenga Pass area--which includes North Hollywood and Studio City--in a West L.A. seat and kept the southwest Valley in a solely Valley district. The committee's recommended map would change Korenstein's seat boundaries to include more of the East Valley and none of the West Valley.

Korenstein argued that the Cahuenga Pass area is more associated with West L.A. because of freeway access.

"If the City Council approves this map, it will be a major slap in the face for the San Fernando Valley," Korenstein said.

Councilmen Dennis Zine and Nick Pacheco voted against the map preferred by Young. Council members Jan Perry and Eric Garcetti, as well as committee Chairman Jack Weiss, voted for the Young map.

Young and Korenstein favored separate plans that would have each representing the West Valley. The region, which has a majority of white voters, could make the difference in a reelection bid for the two white board members.

"This is what the public, [the Los Angeles Redistricting Commission], said made the most sense," Young said of the map recommended by the committee.

The Valley has been the center of debate in the redistricting process. With seven board members, Los Angeles' population dictates a seat must contain 635,000 residents. The Valley, with 1.44 million people, requires the equivalent representation of 2.2 board members, meaning some Valley communities would have to share a district with non-Valley areas.

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