The Robstown ISD board at a special called meeting March 28 approved moving the school board elections previously scheduled for May to the general election date of Nov. 4.
The reason the RISD board took this action was because of state legislation passed during the 3rd Called Session of the 79th Texas Legislature.
The statute amended or added a new section 11.0581 that requires "a school district election be held jointly either with 1) the election for members of the governing body of a municipality located in the district, typically held in May, or 2) the general election for state and county officers, which is held in November of even-numbered years."
There are, of course, other caveats to the law, but in essence this is the issue RISD board members had to tackle, and they did.
The decision by the board was made after our school attorney, Texas Association of School Boards, and attorneys from the secretary of state's office discussed the issues and concerns of changing the election date to be in compliance with state law.
Prior to this law being passed, school districts were not required to have joint elections with the common polling places. Also, districts could use the November date in odd-numbered years as well as even-numbered years.
The initial inquiry came when the RISD called TASB attorneys to inquire if we needed to approve another joint resolution with the city of Robstown for this board election. We were not sure being that the board had approved one the year before.
This is when the TASB attorneys asked if the city of Robstown was voting for city council members. Our response was "no." They are holding an election for a utility board member.
The response from the TASB attorney was "school board members must be elected on the same date as the city council election." An election held with a municipal utility board election will not meet this requirement. The school district is not able to conduct an election separate from the governing body (city council) of the city of Robstown.
As per our school attorney, the district faces the problem that if it proceeds with the May election, the election could be invalidated since it is not on an authorized date. Conducting the election in May would allow any unsuccessful candidate to challenge the election in court and require that it be done again on the proper date. Further, our attorney stated that "risks of proceeding with the May election are greater than the risk of postponement."
After much discussion and weighing the pros and cons, the board of trustees of the Robstown ISD voted to postpone the election for Nov. 4. The two seats on the board that candidates can apply for will remain the same for November.
It is my hope that this provides some clarification to this very important matter. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me at 767-6600, Ext. 2010.
Roberto Garcia is the superintendent for the Robstown Independent School District. Readers may contact him via telephone at 767-6600, ext. 2223.