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LETTERS: Set Malibu Schools Free, Santa Monica Education Activist Says

November 8, 2017

Dear Dr. Drati and Esteemed School Board Members,

I write asking you to unequivocally support Malibu unification at the November 16, 2017 school board meeting. It is time to let this butterfly go free. Why would you want to continue a now-forced "marriage" when one partner so clearly is no longer committed?

If you continue to force it, problems in the current unification will only continue and expand in the coming years. Your task now must be to achieve a quick & peaceful separation and then return your attention to the far more important matter at hand -- educating the children of Santa Monica.

Of particular concern is the fact that you have refused to embrace the unanimous recommendation regarding terms of separation that the Malibu Unification Negotiations Committee (MUNC) took over 18 months to prepare.

Tom Larmore, Debbie Mulvaney, Paul Silvern, Laura Rosenthal, and Manel Sweetmore are long-time SMMUSD community members and skilled volunteers that both the Santa Monica and Malibu communities trust and therefore entrusted with this complex and politically-charged task.

The board is not in a position, I do not believe, to tinker with the MUNC recommendation. And I believe that exercise to be a waste of time.

The district had a choice in how to present the MUNC recommendation. The numbers could have been spun in a lot of different ways. There wasn't just one way to present the story.

Unfortunately, the district has chosen to go negative, inspiring fear in our community that somehow the Santa Monica school kids will "lose out" and suffer following Malibu unification.

That could not be further from the truth and the numbers bear it out. SMUSD alone still will end up with more money per student than all but a tiny handful ( equal to or even less than 3 percent) of all California public school districts.

Both the Malibu and the Santa Monica communities are rich, rich, rich. I scratch my head at the notion that Malibu somehow "owes" Santa Monica for eternity; or that Santa Monica has some sort of right to the property tax revenues of Malibu in perpetuity.

The new MUSD will continue to ease the separation for years and years to come by pouring $$ into the new SMUSD. Apart from that, resources available solely for SMUSD will only increase. The job of the school board and district administration will simply be to spend those revenues efficiently & wisely. I am confident that you and your successors can do that.

Further, given the current push for densification in Santa Monica by our City leadership, which is not family-friendly and is having the effect of pushing lower and middle income families out of our City, there may not even be that many Santa Monica children left to educate in the years to come. So there will be plenty of money to spend on the paltry handful of children left in town!

Maria (Leon-Vazquez) -- before closing, I want to speak directly to you here, as you seem particularly against Malibu unification. Please abandon that position.

You are not doing anyone any favors by digging in and you need to understand that this intransigence that you and others on the school board are demonstrating will only have long-ranging, significant, negative and damaging effects if you force SMMUSD to remain. Ones that you can't even imagine now.

Again, to the entire board -- your job now should be to cut bait and spend your time and energy more productively. This issue should be wrapped up now. And going forward, please focus on the school children of Santa Monica and, in my opinion, also on using your power and position to advocate across the community in every way possible for them and for what makes for quality of child & family life in our town.

So -- please let the butterfly go free NOW, embrace the MUNC recommendations on November 16th, don't try to craft some of your own out of thin air, and stop dithering around and wasting everyone's time.

Thank you!!


Ann (Bowman) Hoover
Santa Monica resident for 21 years
Long-time SMMUSD volunteer

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