The process of designing a 20-year Master Facilities Plan for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) took another step forward Saturday when community members gathered to discuss “Where we are … Where we are going.”At the outset, Sidewalk Studios, the District’s communications and marketing firm for the oroject, briefed the 100-plus participants on the results of a survey on existing facilities that it administered in January to teachers, staff and administrators. The most significant survey results gleaned from the survey were the responses to the question “If you could rank the top three areas to significantly upgrade on your campus what would they be?” Heading the list was bathrooms. It was followed by technology (wireless networks, etc.). Classroom furniture/equipment and parking tied for third place and campus security was fourth. Other areas that garnered significant support were tutoring/special learning facilities, science labs and facilities and library facilities.Also of interest were responses to the question of how current facilities support the seven initiatives in the District’s 2002 Strategic Plan. These seven initiatives are abundant resources, curriculum, differentiated learning, equity and equality of education, optimal class size, schools as community centers and universal access to quality early childhood education, family support programs and after-school care. Of those, most respondents said that in order to achieve optimal class size throughout the District improvements would have to be made. A majority of respondents also believed that improving technology would help the District attain equity in education.Following the briefing, the participants were divided into groups to discuss individual school needs. The largest group focused on the three District high schools – Santa Monica High School, Malibu High School and Olympic Continuing High School. A majority of the group liked the location of Samohi, but felt two smaller sites should be added, as the student body is too large. It was also suggested that the campus be reconfigured so each of its six “houses” could be comfortably accommodated and that the campus should have a better connection to the Civic Center, which is across Fourth Street from the west edge of the campus. People who reviewed Malibu High School’s site like its location, but believe it doesn’t meet the needs of both the middle school and high school. The school was originally designed as a junior high school, and the group suggested that the middle school and high school should have separate facilities. It also recommended adding a medical clinic, as there is no hospital nearby, and constructing an affordable housing complex to enable school staff to live in Malibu. The primary criticism of Olympic was that it houses too many programs: the Pine Street Pre-school and the District Adult Education Program as well as the High School.The groups also made a list of community assets that “improve or enhance the quality of life for all community members,” citing Bergamont Station, the Getty Villa and the city’s entertainment industry companies, the beach, Santa Monica Pier, city parks, libraries and the Civic Auditorium, and Santa Monica-UCLA, St. John’s Orthopedic hospitals, among others. The group also noted that senior citizens were “a human resource” that was underutilized by the District. Other people said that ways should be devised to enable qualified high school students to begin college level study and to provide job experience for students exploring career options. Also working on the Master Facilities Plan are the architecture firm of Harley Ellis Devereaux and Concordia, LLC – a urban design, architecture and public policy planning firm.To find out more about the plan, go to www.ourschoolplan.com, call (310) 450-8338 ext. 100 or email email@example.com. The next workshop will be on Saturday, March 25 at Webster Elementary School located at 3602 Winter Canyon Road in Malibu from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
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