Credit: CAUSE and Future Leaders of America

The final district map for the Santa Barbara Unified School District was unanimously approved by the county on February 28, following months of planning and community meetings that culminated in a map submitted by the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) and Future Leaders of America (FLA). 

During the Santa Barbara Board of Education meeting on February 8, students from FLA, an organization centered around empowering young people to advocate for political change, spoke during public comment, urging board members to prioritize districts like the Westside, Eastside, Old Town Goleta, and Isla Vista when choosing a district map, due to the large Latine and people of color populations in those areas.

“We were happy they were even considering it,” said Daniel Gonzalez, director of organizing and advocacy for FLA. Gonzalez said the youth organizers at FLA began discussing redistricting in November 2021, after attending a few redistricting community meetings and noticing that the proposed maps divided up areas with large Latine populations, which would effectively lessen the voting power of those areas. 

The final layout was decided after many discussions among the young members of FLA, many of whom live on the east and west sides of Santa Barbara and have a vested interest in ensuring their collective voting power. “Our youth are very intelligent,” said Layhearn Tep, health equity policy manager for FLA. “They definitely had the tools; we were just there to support them.” 

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