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'Milestone' Reached in Efforts to Split School District


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By Lookout Staff

April 15, 2024 -- School District and Malibu officials have reached a revenue sharing arrangement that marks a "significant milestone" in the beach city's 13-year effort to split from the district, officials announced.

The tentative agreement, which was presented at a Malibu City Council meeting on Wednesday, is subject to approval by the Malibu Council and School Board, District officials said.

"After thorough discussions and collaborative efforts, both parties have reached a tentative agreement on the revenue sharing arrangement, marking a crucial step forward in the process of establishing an independent Malibu Unified School District," officials wrote in a press release Thursday.

"By working together, the parties have demonstrated their dedication to ensuring that every student, whether a resident of Santa Monica or Malibu, has access to quality education and that decisions regarding educational policies are made with the best interests of the community in mind."

The separation will "provide the (Malibu) community with greater autonomy and decision-making authority over educational policies," officials said.

The City of Malibu and SMMUSD will hold community workshops with their respective residents to share the details of the revenue sharing agreement and its implications' officials said.

Dates and locations for the workshops will be announced in the coming weeks.

"As we celebrate this milestone, we recognize that there is still work to be done," District officials said. "However, with continued collaboration and cooperation, we are confident that we will build a stronger foundation for the future of education in both communities."

District separation has long been an issue in Malibu and came to a head in 2004 when the School District revised its gift policy to require that 15 percent of private donations be contributed to a districtwide fund, restricting parents from donating to specific schools.

In November 2011, the Malibu City Council voted to set the gears in motion to secede from the School District, and in December 2015, the board agreed on the separation, although in general terms.

A negotiating team met almost 50 times after that, but its final report, and an outside consultant’s findings showed Santa Monica schools losing funding. The board balked, and offered two different options, but Malibu showed little interest and pushed on with the separation.

Two years later, in 2017, District leaders asked that a 50-year financial settlement be worked out before a potential divorce so both sides are fairly treated over the long term.

In September 2021, the County Committee on School District Organization voted to move Malibu's proposal forward despite opposition from the School District and the City of Santa Monica.

District and City officials argued that the separation would create an overwhelmingly white Malibu District and financially harm a stand-alone Santa Monica District.

In what was both called "a historic moment" and a "politically suspect move," the School District and City of Malibu unveiled a "framework" shortly before the November 2022 School Board election to move towards separation.

For more information on the separation efforts, visit or SMMUSD’s webpage at

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