The SMMUSD has blundered. The Superintendent moved to close the “A” House at Samohi before the Board even had the vote to eliminate a House. The “A” House principal has been told to start at Malibu July 1st. How did this happen? Who knows, nobody has fully disclosed the timeline of events, but several Board Members have stated that they were aware that this was afoot. Speculation is flowing about dealings that involve the usual things – relationships, cronyism, turf protection.
Board Members are trying to distance themselves by saying this is a personnel matter that falls under the Superintendent’s responsibility. Sorry, that won’t fly. We’re talking about a major, structural change to Samohi which needs much discussion and a well thought out plan before deciding which House and people should go. This is not a run-of-the-mill personnel matter, but rather a decision with such gravity that it falls entirely within the Board’s purview. All students, not just those in the closing House, will be severely impacted as the deck is dramatically reshuffled and they lose counselors and other resources they have come to depend on over the years. There should be a Board approved plan that is appropriately vetted prior to proceeding.
Alternative suggestions have been made by Dr. Pedroza – who is well aware of the situation at Samohi since he is there every day – for how expenses can be cut while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the House system. At least one Board member has summarily dismissed “The Pedroza Plan” without even considering it as a foundation for discussion. An ad hoc group of parents have also presented creative ideas for how to keep the House system intact. Will the Board listen? Stay tuned.
If the Board decides to eliminate a House this Thursday, then there needs to be careful consideration for how this will be done, and which House will go. The Superintendent should be instructed to seek a wide variety of perspectives, to do an analysis of the effectiveness of the programs that have been developed in each house, and to report to the Board on his rationale for which House to cut before any final plan is implemented. This will give clarity to how the decision was made and garner confidence from the community that thoughtful consideration went into the decision instead of some possible hidden agenda.
It should not be too much to ask the School Board and Superintendent to follow a logical and proper procedure where public input counts – after all it is us taxpayers footing the bill. Let’s first have a discussion about whether there are creative alternatives to the draconian step of shutting down a House. If it is determined there is no alternative, then let’s have a well thought out, transparent process for determining which House it will be.
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With summer upon us, nature lovers are increasingly descending upon our beautiful beaches and shorelines. Driving along PCH, you see kayaks dotting our scenic waters and kelp forests, and families celebrating their love of the ocean while fishing off the coast.
Still, many local residents are unaware of a process going on in Southern California to restore our coastal ecosystem and ensure that ocean users can enjoy its natural wonders for generations to come. The implementation of California’s Marine Life Protection Act in Southern California is under way.
This initiative will establish a comprehensive, science-based network of marine protected areas to protect the natural diversity of our waters and restore marine life populations. Through this process, divers, fishermen, marine biologists, conservationists, and business owners are working together to design a series of protected areas that will allow fish and wildlife populations to rebuild off our coast.
If you read the environmental news, you’re aware of the many pressures distressing our oceans, and that our coastal fish populations are in decline. For decades, Californians have protected our iconic landscapes by establishing popular wilderness areas and parks. Now it’s time to do the same for our ocean.
Marine protected areas result in healthier, more resilient ecosystems, and they help replenish fish populations by providing fish a safe haven to grow and breed. Countries around the world have successfully used marine protected areas to restore ocean health. Now California is leading the charge in the United States. Our oceans are in need of holistic management, from the ground up, by setting aside key areas where plants and animals can flourish.
In the long run, fishermen will benefit by catching more fish that spill out of protected areas. And the rest of us will be able to dive, surf, and swim in thriving ecosystems teeming with life. In a time of economic uncertainty and environmental degradation, these areas serve as an insurance policy for the future health and productivity of our California coast.
Local voices are important in this process. There is an opportunity next week at the Malibu City Hall to learn more about this initiative and how to get involved. The state’s Department of Fish and Game is inviting the general public to attend and get educated and share thoughts about protecting our valuable coastal resources. The meeting will be held Wednesday, June 17, at the Malibu City Council Chambers from 5:30-7pm.
Sarah Abramson Sikich
Director of Coastal Resources for Heal the Bay