The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) is considering whether it will be necessary to tweak its interdistrict permit policy for the 2009-2010 school year due to the changing conditions the district is now facing.
An interdistrict permit is issued by the School district so that students can attend school in the district, even though their parents live outside of the cities of Santa Monica and Malibu. The interdistrict permit policy was modified for the 2008-2009 year in order to stabilize the declining enrollment trend in the district.
The policy changes for the 2008-2009 school year retained the 2002 moratorium, but permitted new interdistrict permits for grades K-8 in Santa Monica and K-12 in Malibu. There was also a restriction of a total of 200 new interdistrict permits that could be issued districtwide. The policy did not permit any new permits for Olympic High School, and only new interdistrict permits for Santa Monica High School, if they were from certain priority categories. These categories were for students of parents who are employed by SMMUSD, the cities of Malibu and Santa Monica or Santa Monica College or students who have siblings already attending the district on permit.
Laurel Schmidt, Director of Student Services, told the board that district staff recommends that the board retain the policies it is following for the current academic year. She explained that the staff made the recommendations because this policy worked very well this year. Malibu was able to fill its classrooms, and new K-8 permits helped fill holes in classes in Santa Monica. However, there were “surges in enrollment in certain areas.” The district’s middle schools were full and there was such a large Kindergarten enrollment, two classes had to be added.
District enrollment also increased because of the opening of more affordable housing developments in Santa Monica, and because more students returned to the district from private schools. Schmidt pointed out that right now the district, only has “a few spaces open”, and that there were overflow conditions at some schools. This meant 64 students, whose parents were residents of the cities that are part of the district, couldn’t attend their neighborhood schools.
Board member, Ben Allen, suggested that a new priority category should be created for children of parents who work in the cities of Santa Monica and Malibu. The other board members supported his suggestion but no action was taken on his suggestion or the policy because it was agendized as just a discussion item. The board will take action on the issue at a future board meeting after reviewing in more detail the enrollment trends currently being seen in the district, as well as future projections.