After hearing from a half-dozen experts, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s Board of Education directed District staff to return on May 4 with the necessary information to consider expediting the process for placing a facilities bond measure on this November’s ballot.
The Board’s direction reflects both the tight timeline the District is facing for a November measure and the momentum that has been built during the District’s ongoing 20-year Master Facilities planning process. Attorney Andrew T. Kugler told the Board the resolution calling for the election must be delivered to the County Registrar by August 11 to satisfy the “88-Day Rule” for a facilities bond measure to make the November ballot.
The Board-initiated Master Facilities planning process began in January with a November ballot measure in mind. Documents prepared by the District’s consulting firm, Concordia, state that the project is building upon “the SMMUSD Strategic Plan of 2002, incorporating the seven initiatives for creating the classrooms of the future…this master plan will guide District officials by examining immediate needs and presenting long-term strategies for improving District facilities.”
Richard Bernard from Fairbanks, Maslin, Maullin & Associates, a firm that does public opinion polling, recommended that the Board find out what the community wants, and how voters “feel about this board, about the local schools.”
Board members also heard from the Chair of the District’s Financial Oversight Committee (FOC), Paul Silvern. He expressed his committee’s support for a fall facilities bond measure and placing a parcel tax measure on the June 2008 ballot. Silvern emphasized that, “clearly the parcel tax is the more important of the two. The two parcel tax measures Y and S, which the voters approved previously, represent about $10 million of the most flexible money you have in your budget and the renewal of the monies is terribly important to the financial health of the District.” He then cautioned that if the Board doesn’t place a bond measure on the fall ballot there most likely won’t be another one for several years.
Board member Kathy Wisnicki expressed her support, and the consensus of the Board for the recommendation of the FOC, when she stated, “Part of the drive for the master plan was to go for a 2006 bond. Part of what we have to consider is that we have spent considerable energy and time on the Facilities Master Plan, its creation and gathering public support and input. If we are going to wait until 2010 [to place a bond measure on the ballot] this information is going to be outdated. The timetable proposed by the FOC makes a lot of sense.”
The Board will decide whether they want “to initiate a survey” at their May 4 Board meeting.