Frequently Asked Questions

How Did County Committees On School District Organization Come to Exist?

County Committees on School District Organization were created in each county by the California State Legislature in 1949 pursuant to Education Code Section 4000 et seq.  The San Mateo County Committee on School District Organization (hereinafter referred to as the County Committee) is governed by the rules and regulations established by the Legislature and by its own bylaws.

The County Committee is charged by the state to study and make recommendations and decisions on school district reorganization; establishing, rearranging, and abolishing trustee areas; and on changing the number of governing board members. The County Committee's responsibilities include revising its countywide Master Plan for school district organization.

The County Committee interacts with the California Department of Education, State Board of Education (SBE), and other state and county agencies. Expenses and activities are funded from the County School Service Fund.

Who Serves On The County Committee?

The County Committee consists of 11 members - two from each of the five county supervisorial districts and one member serving at-large.  Members are elected by the voting representatives of each of the 23 school district governing boards as well as the voting representative of the governing board of the community college district.  If district representatives fail to elect members to the County Committee, the County Superintendent may appoint the necessary number of members.  The term of office is four years and begins upon election.  County Committee members serve without pay.

How Often Does The County Committee Meet?

The County Committee meets on a monthly basis at the San Mateo County Office of Education at 101 Twin Dolphin Drive, Redwood City.  Public hearings related to matters before the County Committee are held throughout the county as required by law.  Special meetings may be called by the chairperson or by a quorum of the County Committee.  The meetings are subject to the provisions of the Brown Act.

How Do Items Get On The County Committee's Agenda?

The County Superintendent of Schools has assigned Marco Chávez, Administrator for Board Support and Community Relations, to serve as Secretary to the County Committee.  Agenda items are originated by or submitted to the Secretary to the County Committee.  Official minutes of each County Committee meeting are kept and are available from the San Mateo County Office of Education.

What Is "School District Reorganization"?

The reorganization of school districts is one of the major responsibilities of the County Committee.  An action to reorganize school districts can refer to any one of the following:

  1. Transfer of territory between/among school districts;
  2. School district unification or deunification; 
  3. Dissolution or lapsation of a school district; 
  4. Annexation of all or part of one district to another district;
  5. Establishment/abolishment of trustee areas and increase/decrease in the number of trustees; and 
  6. Formation of new districts of all types from territory of existing districts.

What Is The Process For Proposing A Transfer of Territory?

An action to transfer territory from one school district to another is initiated by the submission of a valid petition to the County Committee. To understand the various types of petitions that may be filed, please refer to the CDE District Organization Handbook available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/lr/do/. The Secretary to the County Committee assists petitioners in securing the appropriate documentation.

After the County Committee has conducted the required public hearing(s) and studied the petition, it prepares findings in a report based on requirements as specified in the Education Code, and makes a determination to approve/ disapprove the proposal. If the County Committee disapproves the proposal, the process ends. If the County Committee approves the proposal and all affected school district governing boards have taken action to declare support for the transfer, the transfer action is implemented.  If any one school district governing board has taken action to oppose the transfer, an election is held in the territory selected by the County Committee. If the proposal passes at the election, the transfer action is implemented.

Any action taken by the County Committee may be appealed to the State Board of Education (SBE). The process is slightly different for community college districts and involves the Chancellor's Office and the Board of Governors instead of the SBE.

What Is The Process For Proposing An Action For Unification?

Like a transfer of territory, an action to unify a school district(s) is initiated by the submission to the County Committee of a petition that has been determined to be sufficient and signed as required by law. The signature requirements are the same as those for a transfer of territory.

After the County Committee has studied the proposal and held hearings on the matter in each of the affected school districts, it prepares a series of findings, a recommendation, and a unification plan for submission to the SBE. The SBE approves or denies the petition and plan. If approved, the proposal goes to an election in territory selected by the SBE.

What Is The Process For Proposing An Action To Form A District?

Like a unification, an action to form a school district is initiated by the submission of a petition that has been determined by the Committee to be sufficient and signed as required by law. The signature requirements are the same as those for a unification action.

After the County Committee has studied the proposal and held hearings on the matter in each of the affected school districts, it prepares a series of findings, a recommendation, and a plan for submission to the SBE. The SBE approves or denies the petition and plan. If approved, the proposal goes to an election in territory selected by the SBE.

What Is The County Committee's Role in Relation To The Number of Trustees And The Manner By Which They Are Elected?

Except in a school district governed by a board of education provided for in the charter of a city, the County Committee has the power to establish or abolish trustee areas; rearrange the boundaries of trustee areas; increase or decrease the number of members of the governing board of a school district; and adopt an alternative method of electing governing board members.

Any request for such an action may be initiated by the County Committee, a petition of the qualified electors in a district, or a resolution of the governing board of a district. At the conclusion of hearings held within the district, the County Committee approves or disapproves the proposal. Approval constitutes an Order of Election; denial terminates the proposal. If the matter goes to election, the voters determine the final outcome of the proposal.

What Are The Requirements For A Petition?

To request a petition to reorganize a school or community college district, any citizen or school or community college district must write a letter to the Secretary of the County Committee. The letter should include a statement of what is proposed, the names of the districts affected, a list of the reasons for such proposal, and a map and boundary description of the area involved. The Secretary will provide the format for the petition. The number of signatures required for a valid petition varies depending upon the type of action proposed.

Can The County Committee Be Bypassed?

Any proposal to reorganize a school district must be considered by the County Committee for public hearing(s) and decision or recommendation. The County Committee is readily accessible through its Secretary.

Where Can I Get Additional Information?

Marco Chávez
Secretary to the San Mateo County Committee on School District Organization
Phone (650) 802-5553
Email mchavez@smcoe.org