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Proposed Malibu Split Fails to Meet County Conditions, Report Finds

Bob Kronovetrealty
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By Jorge Casuso

September 7, 2021 -- Malibu's proposed split from the School District is headed for a key decision this month after failing to "substantially" meet eight of the nine conditions required under State law.

A preliminary report released Thursday by the Los Angeles County office of Education also notes that a fiscal analysis has concluded Malibu's departure would have a "negative impact" on the District.

The report from te Division of Business Advisory Services comes as the County Committee on School District Organization prepares to vote on September 18 to "approve or deny moving the proposal forward into its regular review process."

The report recommends that the Committee move the proposal forward "to engage with the parties and the impacted community" and allow staff to request information "that is not currently available," according to the report.

Of the nine conditions analyzed in the report, the only one that was "substantially met" was the condition requiring that the proposed split "is not primarily designed to substantially increase property values."

"While property values may increase in Malibu as a result of the creation of a Malibu USD, there is no evidence that a desire to increase property values is the primary motive for the reorganization request," the report said.

The preliminary findings indicate that the other eight conditions "may not be substantially met," according to the report.

These include an analysis by School Services of California (SSC) that concluded a "reorganization is likely to lead to a significant impact to the fiscal management of both a new Malibu USD and the resulting Santa Monica USD."

Other conditions that "may not be substantially met" were the following:

  • Adequacy in the number of students, which could fall below the enrollment threshold of at least 1,501 students in a new Malibu District;

  • Community identity, given that Malibu "has sent students to Santa Monica area schools for more than 100 years" who have "longstanding inclusion" in the current District;

  • Equitable division of assets and liabilities, an area where "significant questions have been raised;"

  • Will not promote ethnic discrimination or segregation, since "there would likely be dramatic shifts in racial/ethnic demographics of enrolled students;"

  • Will not substantially increase costs to the state, since reorganization "is likely to impact state funding significantly in terms of current and potential new buildings and other fiscal obligations;"

  • Will not significantly disrupt educational programs in either district, an issue that "is not clear," and

  • Will not result in a significant increase in school housing costs, since reorganization "would likely impact school housing costs substantially in terms of new school and administrative facilities needed" in a new Malibu District.

The report concluded that staff "is informed and believes that resident students in the area proposed for a Malibu USD have access to enrollment in Santa Monica-Malibu USD schools now, and always have.

"Whether or not they find the Santa Monica-Malibu USD insufficient for their particular needs does not merit the creation of a new USD."

If the County Committee approves moving the proposal into the regular review process, "it is clear that additional information is needed," staff wrote.

"It is also clear that, though they have hit roadblocks numerous times, the City of Malibu and the Santa Monica-Malibu USD still have the opportunity to negotiate and to come to the County Committee with a joint solution," the report concluded.

"A negotiated solution that honors the needs and concerns of both parties remains the best recommendation."

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