The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) will receive $385 million in additional funds to complete its Facility Master Plan thanks to an overwhelming victory of Measure ES, which was approved Tuesday by 67.73 percent of Santa Monica voters.
Measure ES, which earned 21,981 votes in favor and 10,472 against, will accordingly help the SMMUSD carry through its $1.2 billion plan to make improvements to all 16 of its campuses district-wide.
Developed in 2006, the Facilities Master Plan was developed to essentially modernize area schools. The $385 million to be made available from Measure ES follows the passage of Measure BB six years ago, when Santa Monica voters approved a series of bonds worth $268 million to fund the Facility Master Plan.
“The new funds will enable the District to make much needed repair and safety upgrades throughout the District including replacement of electrical, energy and plumbing systems in older classrooms and earthquake and fire safety retrofits as necessary,” Laurie Lieberman told The Mirror. “It will allow us to provide 21st century learning environments and necessary technological upgrades … (and) it will enable us to begin serious renovation and modernization of Santa Monica High School, among other important District projects.”
However, the money will be made available piecemeal.
“There will not be one bond issue in an amount of $385 million,” Lieberman said. “There will, in all likelihood, be multiple bond issues, as has occurred with respect to monies authorized by Measure BB in 2006.”
Bonds are specifically issued to projects, meaning the funds are made available once an actual project is ready to go.
“Since all projects are not done at once, again, the entire amount that has been authorized will not be issued at once,” Lieberman said. “Until bonds are issued, there will be no cost to taxpayers.”
Lieberman said since redevelopment funds have evaporated, Sacramento is unable to provide money for these projects.
“There is no funding available from the State for such projects and with the demise of local redevelopment agencies, there are no local funding sources available either, thus local bond measures are the only true means to improve, repair, and modernize school facilities,” she said. “We are so fortunate to live in a community that understands this and is abundantly supportive and generous because of the value it places on education.”
One project already underway is the Science and Technology Building at Samohi.
Prior to the passage of Measure ES, the school district still had about $932 million worth of projects still on tap to complete the Facility Master Plan.
Local bond measures have been a significant source of funding for major facility improvements within the district for nearly 70 years.
“From PTA meetings to coffee groups, through letters to the editor, and with a Rally for Education, parent advocates from PTA partnered with our Board of Education to share about the critical facilities needs in our school sites, and the goal of offering 21st century learning environments to support the excellent teaching our students receive,” Patti Braun, president of the Santa Monica-Malibu PTA Council, told The Mirror.
SMMUSD Superintendent Sandra Lyon said its school site committees would immediately convene to determine if the priorities at each of the campuses remain the same or if school sites would like to update the project list and priorities.
Also passed overwhelmingly was Measure GA.
The proposed city charter amendment that would change the methodology of how Santa Monica calculates annual rent adjustments handily passed Tuesday. More than 60 percent of local voters (13,919 votes in favor) approved Measure GA.
Accordingly, the ballot measure amends the City Charter to limit general adjustments for rent-controlled units to 75 percent of the annual percentage change of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) with a zero to six percent adjustment range. The Rent Control Board would also have the “discretion, after holding a public hearing, to impose a dollar limit, within that (zero to six percent) range.”
“Landlords and tenants will benefit from the simplified calculation of the annual general adjustment to maximum allowed rents,” newly elected Rent Control Board member Christopher Walton said. “The general adjustment will be less expensive and less time consuming to calculate using the new formula. Staff time will be saved. Tenants will benefit from the upward limit provided by GA.”