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Union Objects to New Santa Monica-Malibu Board Meeting Format

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

February 1, 2016 --This week’s meeting of the Santa Monica-Malibu school board will be the first under a new format that is supposed to make the sessions shorter. At least one person doesn’t care for the new format--teachers union head Sarah Braff.

With the new format, the school district’s two union heads would only be scheduled to address the board at one of the two regular meetings each month. Braff said at the Jan. 21 meeting that this concerned her.

“It’s an opportunity [to address the board at both meetings] that would be taken away from us,” Braff said.

Board member Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein said the new format should be revised so that the union heads could be scheduled to address the board at both meetings.

Tahvildaran-Jesswein's colleagues on the dais did not agree with him and noted the new format would be re-examined in June.

Other board members said the union heads could still address the board during public comments on specific agenda topics, as is the case for everybody.

Also, a slot could be scheduled for one or both union heads to speak if it were urgent and the board was notified in advance.

With the new format, determined by a school board sub-committee and later finalized by the entire board, there will be three types of meetings--Meeting A, Meeting B and Hybrid.

Meeting B will be restricted to agenda items up for a vote or board discussion as well as general public comments.

Meeting A and Hybrid are similar to each other and will include Meeting B features as well as commendation and scheduled communications from the union heads, PTA, student board members and senior staff.

The new format is supposed to shorten meetings so they end by 10:30 p.m.

For the remainder of the school year, most months include one Meeting A and one Meeting B.

This week’s meeting, a Meeting A, will take place Thursday in Malibu.

Committee on District Separation Named

Also at the Jan. 21 meeting, the board approved appointments to two “teams” of Santa Monica and Malibu residents that will negotiate financial issues concerning the possibility of the latter city forming its own school district (See Santa Monica School Board Members Support Malibu Split, Questions Remain, December 2,2015).

The Santa Monica team features school district Financial Oversight Committee (FOC) members Tom Larmore, Debbie Mulvaney and Paul Silvern.

On the Malibu team are Mayor Laura Rosenthal, attorney Kevin Shenkman and Manel Sweetmore, who is also on the FOC and heads the organization Advocates for Malibu Public Schools (AMPS).

The negotiation is expected to take 60 days, according to a report to the board in December.

After the negotiation has concluded, the teams will draft a report that will be available for public review and go before the school board, which can request adjustments and/or approve the document.

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