February 25, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

LETTERs to the Editor: School board clarifies

To the editor: On behalf of the Board of Education for the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District, we are writing to clarify some misinformation in a recent article regarding our policy on District Advisory Committees (DACs). Recognizing that we are accountable to the public in providing excellence in education for all students, and that public opinion is essential in our decision-making process, the board remains firmly committed to soliciting input from the public and respecting the extraordinary value of our DACs. Our philosophy has not changed in any way. We realize that without a collaborative process with our community members, it would not be possible for us to achieve the level of excellence in education that we are so proud of in our district.At our December 8th meeting, the Board of Education discussed our policy for District Advisory Committees. In our discussion, the board attempted to clarify and state the responsibilities for our District Advisory Committees in general. Additionally, we discussed the role and responsibilities of our district staff in an attempt to define the differences. Our revised DAC policy clearly indicates that the advice and input from our DACs is invaluable and helps to leverage and improve the board’s decision-making process. We took action on this policy at our meeting on January 5. We further discussed, but have not taken action on, charges for each specific District Advisory Committee. Specific charges for each DAC are identified and outlined on an annual basis working collaboratively with each DAC and district staff. Contrary to the opinions expressed in the Mirror article, in many of the specific DAC charges we do seek advice and counsel on issues that have programmatic and/or budgetary implications for the board to consider. It is our hope that we will continue to build consensus within the community and create a forum for public input by effectively utilizing the expertise of our DAC members. Public input and diversity of opinions are sacrosanct to good government and our democracy. On behalf of the board, we would like to publicly thank all DAC members for their extraordinary work and commitment on behalf of our students. We look forward to a strong and collaborative partnership in the future.Julia Brownley – President, SMMUSD Board of EducationKathy Wisnicki – Vice President, SMMUSD Board of EducationEd. Note: The “opinions expressed in the Mirror artivle” were the opinions of two DAC chairpersons.Questions report To the editor: I read the recent article d/d January 18-24, 2006, page five of the Mirror about Santa Monica’s standing in its treatment of the homeless vis a vis 224 other cities. Amazingly (WOW!), SM placed 9th just below Sarasota, Lawrence (KS), Little Rock, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Dallas, Houston, and San Juan (PR) {when I first read the headline I thought it was some kind of a bad joke.}The South made a clean sweep of the top ten list with Flagstaff at number ten. I guess the warm climates attract more homeless, hence the problems, because none of the mean big Northern cities made the top echelon. Come on now…wouldn’t you have guessed Detroit?… oh well!!!Your article did interview Assistant City Manager Judy Rambeau Franz, who adroitly pinpointed several blunders in the report that inaccurately painted SM the wrong color, which I suppose could mean bright red, not deep blue.Fortunately, Ms. Franz cleared up all of the misunderstandings about SM making the top ten list, or did she? I am not sure because who’s to know what the entire report entailed, but she certainly did correct the errors on a few items. But excuse me… I find it very difficult to stomach the genesis of this story, which is SM making the list in the first place.This is what is so startling. Well, what is the average citizen to think about the process? Was not SM informed that the report was underway? Is it a secret report until published? The point I’m alluding to is this: I would like the city to explain how the report was conducted (assuming they know) and explain how they were so horribly blindsided by this report, and I would be interested in how many categories of the report were not blunders.It has been well advertised that the Republicans are cutting the hell out of domestic social safety net programs while dramatically increasing funding for warfare overseas. After all, they need to help balance the budget because of the runaway costs of occupying Iraq and Afganistan, to name only two! I sincerely, and dearly, hope SM does not allow this nationwide mindset to set into the friendly confines of life on the shores of the beautiful Pacific. I would like to suggest SM either clear up the record on this horrible report and remove their image from the likes of the other nine top ten winners and/or initiate the most progressive programs the nation has ever seen for the homeless, becoming a model of earnest compassion in the face of a rapidly deteriorating dispassionate red country. Hopefully, SM already has these programs in place. If so, they had better start advertising it because The National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty missed it, if it is so!!!Robert HunzikerSanta Monica

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