Cabrillo Students Will Move to Point Dume in 2019

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At its Nov. 1 meeting, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District School Board officially approved a project to realign Malibu schools in a unanimous, 7-0, vote. The decision means that starting in fall 2019, Malibu will be down to two elementary school sites.

The realignment—now titled the “Malibu Schools Alignment Project”—will move Juan Cabrillo Elementary School students to the Point Dume Marine Science School site, effectively doubling the current student population. The middle school students (currently part of Malibu High School) will tentatively move into the vacated Juan Cabrillo space.

SMMUSD Chief Operations Officer Carey Upton presented the plan and findings of an environmental review as required by the California Environmental Quality Act at the meeting.

This review focused specifically on Phase 1 of the project, which involves renting and installing 10 temporary portable units, eight of which will serve as classrooms, one as an administrative office and one as a restroom.

Most of the portables will likely go next to the parking lot, where pick-up and drop-off take place.

Under the City of Malibu Native Tree Protection ordinance, a “qualified biologist will assess the potential of relocation of sycamore tree to be removed,” according to the presentation given at the meeting. The greenery was a sticking point for residents who earlier expressed fond memories of the area during a community meeting at PDMSS.

As for traffic in the area, the district has a number of options to alleviate any additional traffic that may occur, but its representatives said they felt there would be little impact to the current conditions.

Later in the meeting, SMMUSD School Board Member Laurie Lieberman voiced concerns about ease of transportation for Juan Cabrillo families. 

“I’m also wondering whether, as a practical matter, we know whether the people who are currently attending Cabrillo would be better off with a bus from Cabrillo, depending on where they come from,” she said.

According to Upton, despite the bus ridership for Juan Cabrillo and Malibu High being “very, very low,” the district planned to petition and ask families about their transportation needs and whether a bus/shuttle would be necessary. 

“So, our schedule, as I said, was to get the portables installed in time for the 2019 schedule,” Upton said, and added that work would officially begin over spring break. The portables would be delivered toward the end of the 2018-19 school year.

Construction would be limited to the City of Malibu restrictions, which stipulate no construction on Sundays and city holidays, and none from 7 p.m. – 7 a.m. on weekdays and 5 p.m. – 8 a.m. on Saturdays.

“I think it’s very important to get the two schools on the campus for us to learn from the teachers, from the parents, from the students [about] what works on the campus before we decide and design the next phase,” Upton said.

As for the name, mascot and colors of the “new” school, decisions will be made in spring 2019 with input from all parties, as confirmed by a district newsletter.

Phase 2 of the project is dependent on planning and funding, which will most likely come from the Measure M bond on the Nov. 6 ballot, should the bond pass. The plan is to create two permanent buildings, one for class and one for admin.

Upton emphasized the designs and plans such as the placement of the buildings on the campus would happen with “a lot of community and school conversations.”

The timeline on this second part is still up in the air; the district estimates the process will take about three or so years.

“Many of the measures that really impact the traffic flow on the Point are things we’re going to need to work with the city to develop,” Upton said, in response to submitted comments received on the district’s alignment plan.

A total of seven comments were received from the City of Malibu, LA County Sheriff’s Department and five Point Dume neighbors; their concerns mostly focused on Phase 2 and traffic, Upton said.

With the unanimous vote secured, SMMUSD will now apply for a conditional development permit for Phase 1 with the City of Malibu Planning Commission.