October 20, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Letters to the Editor:

My dream scene form the next Board docudrama is when a board member stands up and shouts, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to fake it anymore!” For me, it takes very few words to speak the truth, and lying by omission is still lying. So, if the District is still dead-set on keeping all the budget information to themselves until the meetings start, I offer below a number of cost-savings options for review, evaluation, and possilbe action as a way to spur spirited public discussion on District fiscal policy.2009-2010 Plan For Reducing SMMUSD ExpendituresHard times require tough choices and nobody said it would be easy. For this to work, BOE members must set aside their political agendas, pet projects, and special interests in order to work as a team examining every site and department through an agreed upon set of fiscal and curricular perimeters. The most objective criteria is ENROLLMENT since it drives most of the staffing formulas and 2/3 of the unrestricted funding. Also, Board polices BP4171 Personnel Staffing- Elementary, BP Equivalence – Allocation of Services and Resources, BP3000 Business and Operations – Concepts and Roles, and BP2223 Policy for School Closure (updated) need to be reviewed for guidance. Note: When the School Closure policy was written, elementaries were K – 6. District Offices:1. Reassign Principal on special assignment to vacant administrative position or to classroom $123,0002. Combine Coordinators of Literacy, Math, BTSA, and Secondary Support into two positions. Approx. $200,0003. Combine Director Evaluation/Assessment and Director Curriculum/Staff Development into one position. $125,000Rationale for 2 and 3: Delivery of staff development should shift from a topdown analytical approach out of Ed Services to a site specific, real-time exchange of teaching strategies by the principal as educational leader and her staff. Consider assigning planned districtwide staff development responsibilities to principals with small enrollments. 4. Combine Director-Pupil/Admin Services and Director, Safety into one position. $123,000Rationale: Much of the Pupil/Admin services have been contracted out making the need for two directors unnecessary.5. Note on Special Education: The district collects $10.6 million from the Measure “R” parcel tax and $7.8 million from the cities of Santa Monica and Malibu with 2/3 of the total needed to cover the Special Ed deficit. In the past eight months, the Board has approved 29 settlement agreements totaling $1.7 million dollars. Maybe the District’s practice of avoiding Fair Hearings at all costs is sending the wrong message.Samohi:1. Cut two house principals and realign six remaining positions into one principal, one assistant principal, three house principals, and one dean. Now that enrollment has leveled off at 3000, the district cannot afford the luxury of six house principals. $236,000Rationale: Even though house principals would have administrative responsibilities over two houses, the house system would stay intact. The individual and personal connection between house advisors and students would not change. Management meetings should be rescheduled for before or after the student day, freeing up time for student contact and supervision. And please leave the Dean alone.2. Cut Plant Manager position. $ 68,000Rationale: The District cannot justify two plant manager positions in a district this size and especially in hard times. This person is no longer under the supervision of the site principal and takes direction from Maintenance and Operations. The District should consider returning to the Lead Custodian option.Elementary Assistant Principals:1. After review of BP4171 and the need for attendance at IEP’s, there could be a cut of up to 2.4 positions. $214,000Note: The assistant principal positions at Roosevelt and Franklin should remain full-time even though they do not quite meet the 850 student threshold. The administrative demands at these two sites have increased significantly over the past 10 years. Malibu Elementaries:1. Cut one elementary principal and close one K-5. $115,000Rationale: The average size enrollment at the 3 Malibu elementaries is 320 as compared to the seven Santa Monica K-5’s average enrollment of 550. Even the most moderate enrollment projections for Malibu elementaries show a continuing significant decline. An infusion of permit students just delays the inevitableSMASH K-8:History: Over 30 years ago, SMASH K-12 was born from the vision of Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden, and 5 teachers as an alternative to everything authoritarian. Since then, ALL of our students now benefit from personalized instruction, individualized curriculum, multiple assessments, and caring teachers and support staff. Operating this school as a separate entity can no longer be justified.1. Cut principal position. $110,000Rationale: By offering a SMASH K-5 STRAND choice (Similar to the Multiage option in the past) and without moving teachers, 128 SMASH K-5 students could be blended with John Muir and rename the school “MUIR/SMASH”, bringing the total enrollment up to 430. The remaining 63 middle schoolers could be given the option of attending Lincoln or Adams where they would benefit from comprehensive curricular offerings and personalized instruction. Edison: In these difficult times, the Board should reconsider the justification for spending $33,000,000 on a new school for 250 residents and 200 permit students in one of the most isolated and inaccessible areas in the city. If the school was closed, the Bilingual option could be continued as a STRAND choice at McKinley and Rogers. The Board should consider other options for this site such as moderate-income housing for the Superintendent and district employees. Potential savings of $250,000 or more not included in my totals below:11.4 certificated positions = $1,246,000$15,000 average per FTE for STRS & Heath = $171,000One classified including PERS and Health= $83,000Final total = $1,500,000Jim JaffeSanta Monica

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