The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, wanting to improve how it communicates with its stakeholders, has hired Tom DeLapp, President of Communication Resources for Schools, to conduct an audit of the District’s current communication practices.The audit process included a review of the District’s publications as well as information obtained from focus groups conducted with the District’s parents, employees, union leaders, community leaders, and administrators.DeLapp’s most significant observation was that the District operates more like a federation of individual schools than a unified district and that autonomy leads to inconsistencies and a lack of cohesion. His report noted, “At times, people in the district office seem to be disconnected from the perceived reality of the school sites and the opposite is true for site personnel and parents.” His audit also found that internal communication within the District was poor and that the District does not communicate enough with its stakeholders. At the April 2 Board meeting, DeLapp recommended among other things that the District hire a full-time cabinet level communication director with adequate resources and support services to perform some key communication functions. He also suggested that the District develop a written communications plan with action steps and timelines to help address the issues it will be confronting.Superintendent Tim Cuneo stated the audit report was the first part of a two-part process. “The next step for him is to put together a pragmatic plan that will match our District specifically”, said Cuneo. “DeLapp will include what we need to do, how to roll it out over a period of time, and what it would take financially to do that.”School Board members also revised the District’s permit policy with the same goal as the current academic year; continuing to stabilize the declining enrollment trend in the District. The key change in the policy was to create a priority for interdistrict permits for children whose parents are alumni from any of the District’s high schools. 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 priorities for permitting students when the District has adequate space, staffing, and budget will now be:1. Intradistrict permits (those families who live in the District but want their child to attend a District school other than the school the District wants them to attend).2. Interdistrict permits for District employees who live outside the District.3. Interdistrict permits for siblings of children with interdistrict permits.4. Interdistrict permits for children of employees who work for either the City of Malibu or Santa Monica.5. Interdistrict permits for children of Santa Monica College employees.6. Interdistrict permits for children who are in good standing and have been in the District at least three years before their family moved out of the District.7. Interdistrict permits for children of alumni of Santa Monica HighSchool, Malibu High School, or Olympic High School, who work in either Santa Monica or Malibu.
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