Sonoma County Office of Education

FAQ: School District Organization

Is the County Committee the same as the County Board of Education?
In Sonoma County, the County Committee is a separate entity from the County Board of Education, although this is not the case in all counties. The County Board of Education is elected by registered voters within the county, while the County Committee is elected by governing board representatives from local school districts (one vote from each district).

Who can initiate a request to change trustee areas, the size of a governing board, or how board members are elected?
A request to create or abolish trustee areas, increase or decrease the number of governing board members, or change the method of an election may be initiated by the school district, by petition of 10 percent of registered voters within the district, or by the County Committee.

What is the process for creating or abolishing trustee areas?
The County Committee will hold at least one public hearing regarding the request. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Committee will take action on the request. If approved, the proposal will be placed on the ballot. It's important to note that any time trustee areas are established in a district, the method of electing board members must be determined. Board members can be elected at-large or by trustee area (sometimes known as a ward system).

What is the process for changing the size of a governing board?
The process is the same as the establishment/abolishment of trustee areas. The County Committee will hold at least one public hearing and take action on the request following the hearing. If approved, the proposal will be placed on the ballot. The same process is also used for changing the method of election for governing board members.

Who can initiate the rearrangement of trustee areas within a district and what is the process?
The County Committee can initiate the process or a request can be submitted by the district. The Committee will hold at least one public hearing on the matter before approving or denying the request. If the proposal is approved, it is put into effect for the next school district election that occurs at least 120 days following approval. The proposal does not constitute an order of election unless the County Committee receives a petition from five percent of the electorate requesting an election. The petition must be received within 60 days of the County Committee's action on the proposal.

What's the difference between district boundary lines and school boundary lines?
Sonoma County has 40 school districts and the boundaries between them are called district boundary lines. These boundaries are overseen by the County Committee. School boundary lines, otherwise known as attendance areas, are the lines within a district that dictate which homes are in the attendance area of individual school sites. These boundaries are governed by the boards of local school districts.

Who can request a change in school district boundaries?
A request to reorganize school boundary lines may come from individual homeowners, registered voters in the area to be reorganized, or school district governing boards. A request can also come via a resolution approved by the majority of members of a city council, county board of supervisors, governing body of a special district, or local agency formation commission. The County Committee is also empowered to initiate the reorganization process.

What are the different types of reorganization?
The three most common types of district reorganization are 1) transfers of territory from one district to another, 2) unification of elementary and high school districts or portions of elementary districts with portions of high school districts, and 3) unification where a feeder elementary district is not included in the unification process. For detailed information about types of reorganization, see Chapter 5 of the Handbook on District Organization.

What is the process for requesting a boundary change?

  1. Determine the specific area to be proposed for transfer.
  2. Obtain a map of the area and clearly indicate the boundary of the area proposed for transfer.
  3. Write a description of the property. The description should be a list of all assessor's parcel numbers (APN) with corresponding street address and the school district.
  4. For transfers of a territory with less than 12 registered voters, submit a letter with the reasons for the transfer and signatures of the homeowners. For the transfer of a territory with 12 or more registered voters, submit a formal petition with the signatures of at least 25 percent of the registered voters in the area proposed for transfer.
  5. Prepare a complete set of materials, including a copy of the map, the written description of the territory, names of chief petitioners (3 maximum), reasons for requesting the transfer, names of all affected school districts, signature petition(s), and declaration of person(s) circulating the petition.
  6. Submit the completed set of materials to:
    Sonoma County Committee on School District Organization
    Attention: Mary Downey
    Sonoma County Office of Education
    5340 Skylane Boulevard, Santa Rosa, CA 95403

What is the process for requesting a unification of school districts?
The initiation of proposals for unification is similar to territory transfer.

  1. Determine the specific area to be proposed for unification.
  2. Obtain a map of the area and clearly indicate the boundary of the area proposed for unification.
  3. Submit a petition signed by the governing boards of all affected districts or by 25 percent of the registered voters in the territory proposed to be reorganized.
  4. Prepare a complete set of materials, including a copy of the map, the written description of the territory, names of chief petitioners (3 maximum), reasons for requesting the transfer, names of all affected school districts, signature petition(s), and declaration of person(s) circulating the petition.
  5. Submit the completed set of materials to:
    Sonoma County Committee on School District Organization
    Attention: Mary Downey
    Sonoma County Office of Education
    5340 Skylane Boulevard, Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Leilan, Student
"I like Amarosa because there's a much smaller student count and so teachers can be one-on-one with you. They can actually help you and be one-on-one with you while the class is doing something else. I feel like that's a huge game-changer." - Leilan, Student