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The resignation of San Diego Unified school board member Marne Foster leaves a vacuum on the school board. At Tuesday’s board meeting, the four remaining trustees will decide how to fill the seat.

The district has to appoint someone within 30 days. If it doesn’t, it must hold a special election, according to the city charter.

A special election wouldn’t make a lot of sense right now. Primaries are already scheduled for June, so a special election would happen just before then. Plus, special elections are costly and time-consuming.

In 2014, for example, when a South Bay Union School District was looking at a special election, the San Diego County Registrar of Voters estimated it would cost the district anywhere from $330,000 to $380,000, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

So far only one candidate, LaShae Collins, has announced plans to run for the now-vacant seat. Collins, a staffer for Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, lives in sub-district E, which covers a swath of southeastern San Diego.

An appointment is a likelier option for the school board. That person would have to reside in sub-district E. So Collins would be eligible.

One issue to iron out is whether whoever the school board appoints will be allowed to run for re-election in June. Barrera said the board plans to discuss the details of the incoming board member’s term on Tuesday.

There’s nothing in the rules governing district elections that prohibits an appointed member from running in the election. But the board could say it’s a condition of the appointment that the person decline to run in June. The point is, whoever is appointed might not hold the seat for long.

Then there’s the question of how involved the community could be in picking an appointee: That person will need to be a representative figure, but time is of the essence. The term of the vacant seat lasts only until the end of the year.

Barrera said it’s important to find the right person, but also to fill the seat quickly.

Mario Koran

Mario was formerly an investigative reporter for Voice of San Diego. He wrote about schools, children and people on the margins of San Diego.

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