February 29, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Letter to the Editor: Malibu Separating from SMMUSD

To the Editor:

At its meeting on November 16 at 7:30pm in Santa Monica, the SMMUSD Board will address the issue of Malibu’s request to separate from the District.

As a member of SMMUSD’s Intercultural Equity and Excellence District Advisory Committee, I’ve listened to public comments on this topic at prior Board meetings and had conversations on this issue with Malibu residents.  These experiences have given me a better understanding of Malibu’s concerns as well as a greater resolve to press the Board to work harder to address them.

In retrospect, prior institutionalization of shared governance would have gone a long way toward addressing many of the relevant issues that now seem intractable.

Recently, the Board received the reports of an ad hoc committee as well as of a consulting company, each of which was charged with estimating the fiscal impact of Malibu separation.

Their conclusions are essentially the same.  The estimated financial impact of splitting the 11,000 pupil district under either of their scenarios would leave the next generation of Malibu students with about 1.5 times the revenue per pupil of the Santa Monica students.

In other words, the Malibu per pupil revenue would be about $1 for every 65 cents of per pupil revenue for Santa Monica.

This is not an equitable outcome, especially when one takes into account the fact that Santa Monica currently enrolls about 94% of the nearly 2,700 SMMUSD students who are eligible for free/reduced price lunch (a disproportionality between the two cities that’s unlikely to change much in the next generation).

In short, it would undermine the educational prospects of the vast majority of the most vulnerable students in our district.

Fortunately, better ways for Malibu to gain the local control it seeks are possible.  Sharing power is a more equitable solution than splitting districts.

Sincerely,

Michele Wittig

Santa Monica

Letter to the edtiro

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