Members of the School Board unanimously approved hiring a campaign strategist, Catharine Lew of the Lew Edwards Group, to assist the District in a non-partisan public information outreach effort for the District’s $268 million facilities bond measure which will appear on November’s ballot.
Board President Julia Brownly noted, “Indeed, this is a departure from the campaigns for past bond measures [X and Y].” However, it’s a provision of Proposition 39, which governs school facilities bond measure elections. The proposition also requires that the bond measure must pass with 55 percent of the vote.
The District’s Chief Financial Officer Winston Braham told the Board this is a “tremendous opportunity to allow the District to participate in an informational campaign.” The strategist will help determine the best way to canvass the district.
Lew emphasized to the Board that because there are so many issues both locally and on the State ballot “it becomes vitally important that your constituents receive information to learn more about your needs in a methodical fashion.”
The Citizens’ “Blue Ribbon” Committee will also be working on getting the bond measure passed by voters. Their representative, Ralph Mechur, said it was necessary to clarify their role. He explained to the Board, “Our role is advocacy to get people out to vote for the bond measure.” He also mentioned that their committee was in the process of hiring a professional “campaign management firm.”
Whatever effort the citizen’s committee makes towards getting the community to approve the bond measure must remain separate from what the District does.
If approved by voters, the $268 bond measure would mean parcels in the cities of Santa Monica and Malibu would be assessed $30 per year per $100,000 of assessed value and renters would pay $3 per month to pay for projects recommended by the District’s 20-year Facilities Master Plan. The District will also be eligible to receive State matching funds for these projects.
The Board vote authorized the District to spend $35,000 on consultant fees as well as expenses for mailers and other outreach efforts.
In other business, the School District announced that a new Principal, Dr. Hugo A. Pedroza, had been chosen for Santa Monica High School. Pedroza has over 20 years of experience and is coming to the District after serving as principal of Manual Arts High School, a school with 4,200 students in the Los Angeles Unified School District, with nine small learning communities on a year-round track.
The new Superintendent Dianne Talarico stated, “…Pedroza will be instrumental in continuing the work of addressing the global needs of the campus while supporting the success of the redesign. He will challenge our students and staff as we courageously strive to raise achievement for the students we serve.”
Board members will vote on Pedroza’s appointment at their August 31 Board meeting.