December 4, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Completion of City-SMMUSD Agreement Near:

After a lengthy discussion last Thursday, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education agreed to send a letter to the Santa Monica City Council asking how it wished to address the District’s Financial Oversight Committee’s (FOC) concerns and recommendations for the Master Facilities Use Agreement between the City of Santa Monica and the District.

According to the District staff report, “This agreement formalizes the discussions between the City of Santa Monica and the School District whereby the City will pay the District $6 million for the use of facilities by the City for programs and projects.”

When completed and approved, the contract would cover five years, beginning July 1, 2004 and ending June 30, 2009 and could be extended for up to two more terms of two years each.

The Board had reviewed and discussed the agreement and amendments on February 3, and at its February 17 meeting it had requested that the District forward the agreement and the letter from the FOC to the City for their review. The Board was then scheduled to approve the agreement with the recommended amendments last Thursday but Superintendent John Deasy stated he and his staff “were not ready to bring the item to the Board at this point” as he was still in the process of discussing the recommendations with City Manager Susan McCarthy.

Following those discussions, a “written document from the City Manager would then be reviewed by the Board,” explained Deasy, and then, after the Board approves it, the Council will discuss and approve it.

Board member Maria Leon-Vazquez objected to the Superintendent “representing discussions with the City Manager” for “something as important as this contract’s amendments,” adding that they should be reviewed by a joint meeting of the School Board and the City Council because “it’s best for both agencies that we get together so person to person we can answer each other’s questions to finalize this contract.”

Board member Kathy Wisnicki agreed, saying “I feel like we’re adding another step by discussing revisions without the City Council hearing the item first. I don’t know how to facilitate the process. It sounds like we’re going to hear it two more times, once without City Council input and then the next time with City Council input.”

Ultimately, the Board agreed that Board President Emily Bloomfield would write a letter to the City Council asking for its comments on the FOC recommendations and giving it the option of agendizing its discussion with Board members available to answer questions or calling for a joint meeting with the Board.It was also noted that the Los Angeles County Board of Education (LABOE) needed to know by March 15 that the District would receive the $6 million, as its budget for this fiscal year includes the sum. Deasy assured the Board that the “county will accept a letter written by the City Manager indicating the intent of the City to fund the contract piece for this year.” However he emphasized the LABOE will need “a signed contract for multi-year approval” of the District’s budget projections.

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