The Chair of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s Financial Oversight Committee (FOC), Cynthia Torres, told the School Board on March 19 that, “the financial picture in California is continuing to worsen. The State’s unemployment rate is now 10.1 percent and the State’s February revenues were nearly $1 billion below their previous projections. The economic consensus for California is that state revenues will continue to deteriorate into 2010. In another words, our economic projection of revenues may be much to optimistic so we are worried.”With this in mind, Torres recommended that the District “must respond flexibly to an extremely difficult and fluid [economic] environment.” Her committee suggested that the District hold a community workshop on how best to make the $550,000 in cuts for Santa Monica High School (Samohi).Torres also mentioned that the FOC has formed several subcommittees to examine deficit reductions in Special Education spending, review the District’s bond program, review the proposal for tax and revenue anticipation notes authorization, develop recommendations for the District’s Strategic Plan which will be launched in the Fall, work on how the District publicizes the District’s finances in the community, and look for revenue enhancements. Lastly, Torres announced that there would be another joint budget workshop with her committee and the Board on May 5.Superintendent Tim Cuneo announced at the same Board meeting that he had formed a 12- member committee to “look at the overall budget of the District over the next 18 months. I really do not anticipate that our revenues will be what we hoped for and anticipate additional cuts will be necessary.” He hopes this committee can expand the discussion around the cuts by giving a different perspective on approaching the cuts. The committee will consist of one member from the Santa Monica Classroom Teachers Association, one member from Service Employees International Union, an elementary and secondary teacher, two classified staff, an elementary and secondary principal, the Director of Educational Services, the Director of Fiscal Services, and representatives from the FOC and the PTA. School Board members also discussed the two alternatives being proposed for the Light Rail Transit (LRT) scheduled to come to Santa Monica in 2015. Below are the descriptions of these two routes from the LRT’s Draft Environmental Impact Report.“LRT 1 Expo ROW–Olympic Alternative (LRT Alternative 1) would utilize approximately 5 miles of the existing Exposition ROW from the Expo Phase 1 terminus in Culver City to the intersection with Olympic Boulevard in Santa Monica. From that point, the alignment would follow Olympic Boulevard to the proposed terminus station.“LRT 2 Expo ROW–Colorado Alternative (LRT Alternative 2) would also utilize the existing Exposition ROW from the Expo Phase 1 terminus in Culver City to the intersection with Olympic Boulevard in Santa Monica. From that point, the alignment would continue within the Exposition ROW to west of 19th Street, then diverge from the ROW and enter onto Colorado Avenue east of 17th Street and follow the center of Colorado Avenue to the proposed terminus.”The Board, like the Santa Monica’s Planning Commission and City Council, decided to endorse the Colorado Alternative. They were concerned that the Olympic alternative’s proposed downtown aerial platform at 4th Street would unsightly and negatively impact Santa Monica High School, The Doubletree Hotel [the hotel leases its site from the District], an the proposed 7th Street pedestrian bridge that would serve Samohi.
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