Trustees for the Tuloso-Midway Independent School District voted Monday to change the election cycle for members of the school board.
Superintendent Cornelio Gonzalez informed the board at Monday's meeting that the district's attorney was recommending the board extend their terms from three to four years and coincide their elections with the county's election schedule.
A letter sent to the school district in August by the Texas Association of School Boards stated those districts who may be holding their elections in November should "not hold general trustee elections in November 2007," adding that they should instead move those elections to even-numbered years only to coincide with the general election for county and state officers. General trustee elections had been scheduled for April, but Gonzales said the state had asked districts to postpone the elections until November.
The district has always held their elections in April to coincide with the city of Corpus Christi's elections, Gonzalez added.
Recent legislation and Senate Bill 670, which was written by District 34 State Representative Abel Herrero, gave school districts the option to hold joint elections with the city in April 2009, but Gonzalez said the district's attorney felt it was more prudent to match their election cycle with the county, since waiting until the city's election would take up to a year longer, meaning an election wouldn't be held until 2009.
"Because the county comes first, the board can vote to go with the county," Gonzalez said. "The common sense thing to do is to go with the county.
Holding joint elections with the county would allow three trustees whose terms were scheduled to end in November - Felix Landin, board president Paul Mostella and Hector Del Toro - to be up for election in November 2008. Those trustees whose terms were scheduled to end in November 2008 - Mike Alanis, Billy Lerma and Jan Mostella - will be up for election in November 2010. Trustee Sylvia Longoria, whose term was set to expire in 2009, will run in 2010 as well.
The proposed changes in the election cycle would only apply to general trustee elections, according to the TASB letter, so school districts could still hold special elections to fill a vacancy or bond elections in April, May or November of odd-numbered years.
School officials said before the district paired up with the county for trustee elections, the district paid $4,000 to $5,000 in operating costs, for election clerks and other supplies. For last year's November bond election, which the school district held in conjunction with the county, the district spent $6,400, more than $2,000 over what had been budgeted, said Carol Sue Hipp.
The increase in costs came from the price the county was charging the district to use its electronic voting machines, which the county was forced to purchase after the 2000 presidential fiasco that took place in Florida, Hipp said.
"All of the money that was spent went to the county. There were no other expenses," she said. "It all started with wanting better technology for elections."
Next year, the district will have to pay for three elections, for each trustee spot up for grabs, which could cost the district $12,000 to $15,000, Hipp added.
At a public hearing held Monday, before the regular school board meeting, Gonzalez said there may be some initial confusion from voters on the changes to the election cycle, but added there was little choice in the matter for the district.
"This is for everyone to understand how we were pushed into this situation," he said. "This is being forced on the school board by someone making decisions somewhere else."