11, 2009 --
The formation of a new Strategic Plan is about to
begin for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.
And school officials promise this version will include clear
priorities that are financially feasible and be a general
improvement over the last Strategic Plan, approved in 2002.
The Board of
Education at its meeting last week approved a $90,000 contract
for Strategic Plan consultation services with Gensler, a
San Francisco-based firm with offices throughout the world
including one in Santa Monica.
to many as an architecture and design firm, Gensler is involved
in many industries, including strategic planning.
work with District officials and a yet-to-be-formed Strategic
Plan Team to create a document by May that will set the
goals of the SMMUSD for the next several years. The process
will include interviews with various District stakeholders,
two “community open houses” to collect input
from the public and data gathering.
Tim Cuneo said the final product will have “very clear
priorities that have and costs associated with them.”
He said the 2002 Strategic Plan was flawed.
too general,” Cuneo said. “It wasn’t specific.
It’s very hard to make decisions around. So we’ve
learned from that. And we can use those things in order
to go forward.”
to hire Gensler was not met with unanimous enthusiasm. Board
members Barry Snell and Ben Allen abstained from the vote.
The other five members voted in favor of the contract. Snell
said he was troubled that proposals from other firms were
not presented to the board.
in a time constraint, but I also feel that the board has
been limited in its being able to make a decision on this
contract without a broader selection process,” Snell
view was shared by Financial Oversight Committee Chair Cynthia
Torres, who spoke during public comment on behalf of the
somewhat familiar with the firm’s experience in this
area and we understand they have some relevant expertise
to offer,” Torres said. “But it [selection of
Gensler] seems to have been decided with limited input from
Maria Leon-Vazquez said the selection of Gensler was made
by the superintendent after receiving advice from board
members on what kind of firm was desired.
community we have so much involvement and everybody wants
to have their hands on everything,” she said. “And
sometimes we can’t have everybody’s hands in
the making of the soup. We just can’t have it.”
Jose Escarce said, “Based on what I heard about this
particular firm … I’m very comfortable with
Also at the
meeting, Neil Carrey, who heads the committee determining
the feasibility of another SMMUSD parcel tax measure, told
the board a scientific poll would be taken during the weekend
to get an idea of the public sentiment.
will meet later this month to discuss the findings of the
poll. It will then form a proposal regarding a tax, including
an amount. This proposal will be presented to the board
on Dec. 10.
The board formed
a committee in August to explore the possibility of putting
an “emergency/temporary parcel tax” on the ballot
to help fill a projected eight-figure deficit. District
residents are already paying $346 per parcel to the SMMUSD.