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Next School Board Meeting Could Determine Path Toward Santa Monica-Malibu Split  

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By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

April 10, 2017 -- There is only one meeting of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) board this month, but that lone session is a big one. The hot topic of school district separation is on the April 20 agenda.

No final decisions will be made at the meeting because the topic is only scheduled as a “discussion item,” but the board could “determine next steps,” according to the District staff report.

Transforming the portion of the SMMUSD in and around Malibu into a separate school district, a process oddly officially known as “unification,” is a move that has been in the making for many years.

A milestone was reached in February when a special committee composed of Santa Monica and Malibu residents reached an agreement on the many financial complexities of district separation (“Panel Reaches Proposed Agreement on Santa Monica-Malibu School District Split,” February 28, 2017).

The committee’s agreement is explained in great detail in a 70-page report with various recommendations that was presented to the SMMUSD board early last month. After that, “community input sessions” took place in Santa Monica and Malibu.

This included a discussion before the Malibu City Council that featured many tough questions, but lots of applauding and concluded with the council approving a brief resolution to “urge the school board to approve the committee’s recommendations.”

That school board vote for approval could come shortly after the April 20 meeting.

A vote of the people on district separation could then come in the near future, with elections taking place in Santa Monica and Malibu (plus the surrounding area).

Santa Monica residents would only be voting on separation, while Malibu residents would select a new school board and vote on a district funding measure.

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