The California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB) recognized the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) on September 3 for helping to test a new Environmental Educational Initiative (EEI) curriculum.
CIWMB Board member Sheila Kuehl, a former State Senator who represented Santa Monica, presented the award to the District. She noted that SMMUSD volunteered to be one of the 19 school districts in the state to field test the new curriculum. This curriculum will now be available for all school districts to adopt this year.
Kuehl emphasized that the new curriculum is “a departure from traditional environmental teachings.” It is a “progressive approach in teaching students the role of the environment in everything around us.” The EEI home page states the key EEI elements are development of California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts (EP&Cs), aligning the EP&Cs to California’s Academic Content Standards, developing a model curriculum to teach the EP&Cs to California’s K-12 students, incorporating the EP&Cs into criteria for instructional materials to be used in science, history/social science, English/language arts, and, mathematics, and aligning the state’s diverse environmental education programs and materials with the EP&Cs. The EEI was mandated by two State laws authored by our District’s current State Senator, Fran Pavley.
The goal of the new curriculum according to Kuehl is to make California’s students “better stewards of the environment.” This will be done by helping them learn how to “nuture the complex systems to in which we live in” in order to protect our environment.
After receiving the award, the School Board adopted a resolution to permit temporary interfund cash borrowing. The District’s Chief Financial Officer Janece Maez explained that this was necessary because of the “delay and postponement” of receiving funds for some programs from the State. Funds will be borrowed from the District’s General Fund and be paid back by the end of this fiscal year.
Superintendent Tim Cuneo also gave a brief report on the District’s improvement on the annual California State Standards Tests. He praised the District’s “steady and continual improvement” on the tests since 2002 by noting ther has been a 17 percent improvement in science and history, a 14 percent improvement in English and a 8 percent improvement in Math. He mentioned that there is now a new website where students, educators and parents can go to find sample test questions. The website address is starsamplequestion.org.
Lastly, the Board approved the hiring of a Behavior Intervention Specialist. The District’s Chief Academic Officer, Sally Chou, explained that there has been an increased need for such a service in the District and that the District wants to get away from contracting out for these types of services in order to save money.