We need to realign clubs within District 36 into Areas and Divisions each year, to accommodate changes made by new clubs chartering, clubs changing meeting locations and/or meeting times, and clubs that fail to renew. There are a number of considerations that come into play in putting together a realignment plan:
- Area size. Toastmasters International suggests that Areas contain between 4 and 6 clubs. There are advantages and disadvantages to both larger and smaller areas; District 36 has found through experience that 5 club areas are a good balance, and we use that as a starting point, mixing in 4 and 6 club areas when they make sense.
- Meeting time. Clubs fall into two main categories – Daytime (corporate) clubs, and Evening/Weekend (community) clubs. In order to make it easier for clubs within an area to interact, and for Area Governors to visit and serve the clubs, we prefer to group Daytime clubs with Daytime clubs, and Evening clubs with Evening clubs.
- Geography. We work to build areas out of clubs that are closer together, while being mindful of other factors that can result in clubs that are closest to each other being assigned to different areas.
- Balance. The new Distinguished Area Program has a simple goal – 50% of your clubs distinguished. This figure is rounded up, suggesting that areas should have an even number of clubs. Building areas based only on meeting time and geography results in some areas that are extremely strong – and others that are extremely weak. In order to increase the likelihood that more area governors will be successful, we take balance of strength within areas into account, and place clubs into areas accordingly.
- History. There are established clubs which have historically been in the same area and compete against each other in contests; we preserve those relationships where possible.
- Sustainability. When doing a major realignment, one goal is to allow room for growth without needing to do more than minor adjustments over the next several years, providing for stability.
With those considerations in mind, a proposal for realigning District 36 into 7 Divisions (up from 6) with 41 areas (up from 36) has been developed. As a broad summary, the downtown Divisions (A, B, and C), along with Division E, were rebalanced. Division D – our largest Division, with the largest areas, was restructured to reduce the sizes of the areas. We then took Division F (in the center of the District), folded in a number of clubs (and areas) primarily from Divisions D and E, and then split it in two to create the new Division. Finally, we renamed/renumbered the Divisions and Areas as needed to reflect the new alignment.