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Santa Monica-Malibu School Board Agrees to Malibu Split Pending Revenue Sharing Plan
By Niki Cervantes
March 22, 2018 – The school board for Santa Monica-Malibu public schools said Tuesday the split from the District sought by Malibu necessitates a 50-year revenue-sharing deal to go forward.
The board approved a motion adopting the “concept” of revenue sharing for the next half century between Santa Monica-based schools and a new Malibu school district, but with a major caveat.
Malibu must withdraw, or put on hold, a petition which skirts the board by asking the County Office of Education to handle the separation.
Action on the petition must be stopped “until a time when we can collaboratively come to an agreement regarding the details” of the revenue-sharing concept being pushed by the School Board, the motion said.
The motion also said future talks should include possibly creating a charter school for Malibu “as an interim mechanism to unification, if desired by the City of Malibu.”
The revenue sharing plan to ensure both Malibu and Santa Monica schools are funded adequately was requested by the Board last November ("SMMUSD Board Seeks 50-Year Financial Settlement as Condition of Malibu Separation," November 17, 2017)
Funding is at the heart of the dispute over Malibu’s mission to bolt from SMMUSD and create an independent district.
Although the board agreed in concept in 2015 to allowing Malibu to leave, relatively peaceful negotiations fell apart when SMMUSD was told by consultants the split would decrease per-pupil funding while elevating it for Malibu ("Santa Monica School Board Members Support Malibu Split, Questions Remain," December 2, 2015 and ("Santa Monica-Malibu Split Likely to be Pulled from School Board Meeting Tonight," April 20, 2017).
Findings from a district consultant using updated financial calculations showed Santa Monica schools would loss funding if Malibu students left for an independent district.
To equalize funding, the report suggested scenarios involving 50 years of payments from a Malibu School District to a Santa Monica School District.
On Wednesday, Malibu City officials said they are “cautiously optimistic for and pleased by” the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) board’s proposal.
“It offers a genuine path to creating an independent MUSD,” read a statement released Wednesday by a Malibu City spokesperson.
“Although concerned about the details of the SMMUSD proposal, particularly its extremely lengthy financial mechanisms," the statement said, "in principle, we are open to reviewing the proposal and working cooperatively to reach workable solutions."
The City Council would need to approve the next steps to be taken, the statement said.
Tuesday’s vote was approved on a 6-to-1 vote. Board Member Maria Leon-Vazquez was the lone dissenter.
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