BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — An attempt to fill a vacant seat on a local school board was unsuccessful last night.

The Standard School District Board of Trustees interviewed applicants to fill the seat left open when longtime trustee Jack O’Brien resigned last month. Just one person applied, and after a split vote, the seat will remain open until a general election is held.

Board members say the lack of applicants could be related to a recent move to “by-area” trustee representation.

“This is the fourth, that we’ve had to do a special board meeting and get applications in,” board president Pam Jacobsen said. “We’ve never had anything under three applications. So we really need people to step up and put themselves in this position, so it makes it really hard.”

School districts around the state have moved away from at-large board member elections, instead dividing their territory into “areas” where prospective trustees must live.

The shift is designed to ensure representation for minority communities, and avoid legal challenges under California’s Voting Rights Act.

Some board members worry it could leave members’ chairs empty come November.