College Board splits Del Norte

By Jessica Cejnar / The Del Norte Triplicate

College of the Redwoods officials last week approved a resolution that reduces the number of trustees on its governing board and splits Del Norte County between two districts.

If ratified by the California Community Colleges' Board of Governors, the number of CR trustees would decrease from nine to eight. Trustee area boundaries would also be reconfigured, with portions of Del Norte sharing a representative with eastern and southern Humboldt.

CR's Board of Trustees voted 6-1 in favor of the reduction in trustee areas at its July 8 meeting, according to a college press release. Trustee Rick Bennett, who represents Del Norte County and lives in Gasquet, dissented. Trustee Tracy Coppini from Ferndale was absent.According to the college, reducing the number of trustees will decrease CR's expenditures for trustee stipends, health benefits, travel, professional development and election-related expenses. The decision is in response to CR's ongoing efforts to regain financial stability, according to the press release. CR is the only community college district in California with nine trustees.

No current trustee will lose his or her position. CR's Board of Trustees has been operating with eight members since Southern Humboldt representative George Truett retired in 2013, said spokesman Paul DeMark.

The reconfiguration will allow CR to reduce its trustee areas to seven without further redistricting if its Mendocino Coast Campus in Fort Bragg is transferred to Mendocino College, DeMark said.

"Both colleges have approved an agreement to have Mendocino College offer classes for the fall semester," he said, adding that CR would still have jurisdiction over the campus. "While this is going on, both colleges will continue to pursue a more long-term MOU. For now, it's just the fall semester."

CR must include a copy of the new trustee area map, the board's official resolution and an explanation of the reasons for the change when it submits its request to the Board of Governors, according to the college.

Bennett, who is serving his final term on CR's board, called the new trustee area in eastern Del Norte and Humboldt counties unwieldy and said it would be impossible for someone to adequately represent its constituents.

Bennett, who currently represents Trustee Area 3, which includes all of Del Norte, said he wouldn't be able to run for re-election under the new configuration.

Under the new reconfiguration, Gasquet, Hiouchi, Klamath and eastern Smith River will be part of Trustee Area 7, which will also include Blue Lake, Willow Creek, Garberville and Shelter Cove.

Sally Biggin, of Hoopa, currently represents Trustee Area 7. Biggin's current term ends in December 2015.

The reconfigured Trustee Area 3 will include Crescent City, Fort Dick and western Smith River.

Trustee Area 3 is up for election in November, according to Theresa Gill, a representative with the Del Norte County Elections Office.

Bennett said CR officials proposed the reconfiguration as a way to make sure the populations in each district were relatively equal. Under the proposed reconfiguration, the population for each trustee area would be between 23,280 and 23,617. Trustee Area 8, which starts at the Humboldt-Mendocino border and includes Fort Bragg, consists of 21,074 residents.

"I voted no because I don't think the people who elected me could possibly want the way that it's drawn up," Bennett said. "I think it's going to be a very difficult district to represent, coming all the way up from Garberville and including Willow Creek and Hoopa. It is not logical."

Gill said Trustee Area 3 will include voting precincts 1andndash;8 and 13andndash;17.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at jcejnar@triplicate.com .

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The Del Norte Triplicate
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