Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Vallecitos seeks applicants for Trustee Area 1 seat

The Vallecitos School District is seeking Trustee Area 1 residents who desire to serve on the school board.

Chris Howells, who had been the board member for Trustee Area 1, has moved out of California. Howells submitted his resignation effective Monday, Feb. 12. The Tuesday, Feb. 13, Vallecitos School District board meeting included a 3-0 vote to approve the provisional appointment process for the vacancy.

“We’re hoping to fill it,” Vallecitos School District superintendent Meliton Sanchez said.

Applications to fill the vacancy are available in the Vallecitos School District office. The deadline to apply is Friday, March 8. Trustee Area 1 is in the north central part of the district and is on both sides of Interstate 15, and an applicant must be a registered voter in that trustee area.

“We hope someone will be willing to step up,” Sanchez said.

In June 2019, the Vallecitos board transitioned trustee elections from at large to by trustee area. The board members were allowed to keep their at-large seats until the expiration of their terms. The boundaries utilized the 2010 census which indicated 1,962 people living in the school district. The 2020 census indicated a total population within the Vallecitos School District of 2,271, and in February 2022, the Vallecitos board approved boundary adjustments to attain a more approximately equal population in each trustee area.

The at-large trustees elected in 2018 who were allowed to keep their seats until the end of 2022 included Sally Forester, who announced her resignation in August 2021 due to moving out of the district. In October 2021, the Vallecitos board appointed Heather Reinhardt to that at-large seat.

The Reinhardt family lived in the Murrieta Valley Unified School District before moving to Rainbow in 2019. Reinhart does not live in Trustee Area 1, so she completed her term in December 2022. No candidate filed for the Area 1 seat in the November 2022 election. The Vallecitos School District sought an applicant to fill that vacancy. Howells applied and his appointment was approved by the board.

The other Vallecitos School District board members will conduct interviews of the candidates at a future board meeting before selecting an Area 1 trustee. Because the term of the seat is from December 2022 to December 2026, the seat will be subject to election for a two-year term in November 2024 although the appointed incumbent may file for that two-year term if he or she desires.

Section 5091 of the California Education Code stipulates that if the vacancy is not filled within 60 days, the county Office of Education superintendent shall call an election to be held within 130 days after the election is ordered, so the Trustee Area 1 seat must be filled by Friday, April 12, unless the school district requests a waiver of that deadline. The waiver is intended for situations such as a lack of applicants rather than for a board deadlock on the new trustee. If the vacancy is filled by an appointment of the school board within 60 days an election would also occur if a petition signed by at least 5% of the number of registered voters in the district is submitted to the County Office of Education within 30 days of the appointment.

The district’s Trustee Area 5 seat has been vacant since Melissa Cox resigned from the board due to family reasons in March 2023. Trustee Area 5 is in the western part of the district. The Vallecitos district thus currently has two vacant seats, and the school district is also hoping to find an applicant for the Trustee Area 5 seat. The term of the Trustee Area 5 seat is from December 2020 to December 2024, and the appointed board member is eligible to run for a full term in the November 2024 election.

Joe Naiman can be reached by email at [email protected].

Author Bio

Joe Naiman, Writer

Joe Naiman has been writing for the Village News since 2001


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