|The Lookout Letter to the editor|
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April 15, 2021
It's time for Malibu to go. The city has no true representation in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD), and of course they don't like that. Who would?
In addition, Malibu has been a distraction and a scapegoat for many years, with the District blaming it for problems of its own creation.
The most recent offer from Malibu’s City Council that requires both sides to live with the LA County Office of Education’s (LACOE) financial terms is fair.
SMMUSD says that Malibu's prior offer was not fair and equitable, but it's difficult to trust anything the district says about its finances. For example, the district claims it will have to cut $30 million in programming over 10 years if Malibu leaves, implying a loss of revenue.
However, a Santa Monica School District would actually receive more revenue from property taxes every year than it does today under the District's projection model.
According to SMMUSD’s own calculations, per pupil revenue for the 2020-21 school year is $18,703 with Malibu in the District, and $20,953 in 2031-32 without Malibu, which is an increase of $2,250 per pupil.
Furthermore, Malibu’s current offer to let the County decide will almost certainly increase that amount.
The district has been consistently in the red since at least 2013. They overspend on new staff and new programs without any corresponding cuts in other areas, just like the City does.
Instead of balancing its budget, SMMUSD is looking for more revenue, and is counting on Malibu’s property taxes and COVID relief funds to mask its deficit spending.
The most recent projection for the 2020-21 school year is a $5.5 million deficit, resulting in a reserve balance of $16.7 million. At that rate SMMUSD will have depleted its reserves and be broke in less than three years.
It’s time for new leadership and a balanced budget. It’s time for a Brighter Future for Santa Monica.
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