By Lookout Staff
October 27, 2016 -- Today's questions involve the City's relationship with the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District:
Question 1: How would you characterize the City government's relationship with the local school district? What, if anything, should be changed?
Question 2: Even though the City government does not control the school district, you live in it. Why were there not enough candidates to make a competitive election this year? Is it a negative that there won't be one?
Terence Later, challenger
Question 1: I believe that the children shouldn't be relegated to selling baked goods on the street corners to support the arts and music and after school activity programs. We need to make sure that our children are supported by the city to keep these important programs viable.
Question 2: It is an absolute shame and the children -- the future of the world -- need to be supported completely -- spiritually, psychologically, etc. for the future of our city and our world. There needs to be much more support from the top up including the board.
Tony Vazquez, incumbent
Question 1: I feel the City Council has a good relationship with the Santa Monica/Malibu Unified School District. This has resulted in an increase of city funding for all educational levels. We need to continue our support of the Learn+ Thrive program, and support the District's efforts to best meet the high tech challenges of our current workforce.
Question 2: There will be a new member on the School Board this year, as one of the incumbents decided not to run for re-election. I feel the community as a whole is satisfied with the direction the school district is going and the great successes it has achieved.
Jon Mann, challenger
Question 1: The relationship between city and district is incestuous.
Question 2: There are a lot on interests in the city who try to have their chosen insiders endorsed for the school board and for other powerful position in public service. Perhaps it was a fluke that both the city and the district dropped the ball in grooming who they wanted on the board. The same thing has happened in past elections for the Rent Control Board.
Mende Smith, challenger
Question 1: Greens believe every child deserves a public education that fosters critical and holistic thought, and provides the breadth and depth of learning necessary to become an active citizen and a constructive member of our society. I do not believe our public school system, as it presently operates, helps us reach that goal. My kids are already aged out of the system, though I am strongly opposed to the dissolution of public schools and the privatization of education. In order to offer the best educational experience, we must adopt democratic empowerment of organized students, their parents and communities along with organized teachers. We must stop disinvestment in education and instead put it at the top of our social and economic agenda.
Question 2: Unfortunately, we often expect too little from our students, teachers and schools. We must teach our children and teenagers to be leaders, and challenge them with great works of literature, economics, philosophy, history, music, and the arts.
Terry O’Day, incumbent
Question 1: The City has been a good partner to the school district, providing important operational funding to reduce the shortfalls in state budget funding, amounting to almost $19 million this year. Measures GS&GSH will add additional funding to operate the schools. Although the state economy has bounced back, state government has not restored the cuts to school, so our community must step up to preserve our high quality education.
Question 2: I am not concerned that the school board election will not produce strong governance for the district.
Ted Winterer, incumbent
Question 1: When I meet elected officials from other cities at conferences and elsewhere they are always astounded that we support our school district so generously with General Fund revenues -- it's very rare for a city and district to have such a cooperative and synergistic relationship and to have that relationship supported by voters with efforts such as Measures Y and YY. That said, I'd like to see the district work more with the city on strategies to reduce car trips and believe both agencies need to endeavor to find ways to use the land at both Samohi and the Civic Center to provide playing fields, joint use arts and cultural venues and mobility solutions.
Question 2: I’m not sure why more didn't choose to pull papers for the school board race, although I know one very qualified potential candidate had some health issues. But I have no doubt that the two incumbents and one newcomer who will be appointed to serve are extremely qualified, dedicated to public education and will serve our city well.
Armen Melkonians, challenger
Question 1: The School district leadership should be autonomous from the City Council. Currently it is not.
Question 2: In Santa Monica democracy is limited by the influence of big developers who pour huge amounts of money into Council campaigns, ensuring the re-election of incumbents. That money shapes the entire election process. Council members use their power to influence the campaigns of school board members. Why bother to run for school board here unless you are favored by the political machine that controls the outcome? This is not good for our children and it is not good for our city. But this is how it has worked here for a very long time.
Gleam Davis, incumbent
Question 1: I think that the City has an excellent relationship with the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. It also has a great relationship with Santa Monica College. I would like to see those relationships strengthened by changes in City Hall's organization that would make it easier for the City and the School District and the College to cooperate and collaborate on initiatives that promote wellbeing across the City.
Question 2: It always is good to have contested elections so that incumbents do not become complacent and so that voters have options. I do not know why only three school board candidates qualified for the ballot this year. Perhaps people are satisfied with the current direction of the school board.