February 28, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Funding for School District’s Facilities Master Plan Grows:

The School District’s Chief Financial Officer Janece Maez told members of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s School Board that the $268 million Master Facilities Plan budget could be increased to $299 million.

There were several reasons for the $31 million increase. Since the Board agreed to speed up the construction time from eight years to six years, money would be saved because less money would be lost due to the estimated construction cost escalation factor of $1 million per month. This would also increase the developer fees received to $10 million and redevelopment funds received to $15 million. Maez stated that the District’s Financial Oversight Committee endorsed this approach. In addition, by issuing construction bonds sooner rather than later, the District could receive $6 million more in interest.

The impact on the actual construction budget would be $62 million in unallocated funds. All of the Board members expressed their support for accelerating the program and spending the additional construction funds on middle school projects. They will discuss specific allocation of the funds at their February 21 meeting.

Board member Jose Escarce noted, “An acceleration of the process requires us to push at every step.”

There was also discussion by Superintendent Dianne Talarico about the audit of the School District’s Special Education Program by outside consultant Lou Barber & Associates. (See story on page 14.)

Talarico noted Barber will obtain information in a variety of ways, including speaking with Talarico, meeting the District’s Special Education teachers, and obtaining community input. According to Talarico, Barber will also visit McKinley and Grant Elementary Schools, Lincoln Middle School, and Santa Monica High School to look at “examples of the types of Special Education programs we offer.”

The superintendent also mentioned that the District is still “identifying the process we will use” to analyze the type of settlement agreements that have been used by the District with Special Education families so their children can receive the type of program they need. One idea is to “send a letter to all families with settlement agreements currently with a mutual waiver that we would both sign so the children and families could retain their privacy and confidentiality” and their children’s education will not be compromised.

The consultant’s report will be presented to the Board at their first meeting in March.

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