News Briefs

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School board chooses new president

Oscar de la Torre was selected by his peers on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education last Thursday to become its new president. De la Torre takes over the position from Malibu resident Kathy Wisnicki, who now returns to being a regular board member. Also at the meeting, Jose Escarce was named board vice president.

De la Torre, a resident of Santa Monica’s Pico Neighborhood, was first elected to the board in 2002. He was re-elected last year. De la Torre is the founder and director of the Pico Youth and Family Center, a gang prevention youth facility in Santa Monica.

Upon taking his seat in the president’s chair, de la Torre said he hoped to be a part of creating a world-class public education system.

“Hopefully we can accomplish that, maybe not in one year, but we will definitely plant a lot of seeds,” he said.

De la Torre takes over the board of a district in division. With a large number of Malibu parents believing Malibu High was mistreated with the distribution of Measure BB capital project funding, there is a movement to create a separate school district in this city. De la Torre wrote in a recent e-mail to The Malibu Times, that “the school board is sensitive to the needs of the students in Malibu.”

Also at Thursday’s school board meeting, the board approved a $79,000 contract with Lou Barber and Associates to conduct an independent review of the district’s special education program. The board had agreed to go through the review after the Santa Monica City Council threatened not to increase its annual contribution to the city.

Operation Recovery 2007 to begin meeting

A meeting will take place this week on Wednesday at a private home in Corral Canyon for victims of this year’s three major fires. Called Operation Recovery 2007, it will give the opportunity for people to share information regarding various issues including insurance and dealing with state agencies. Future meetings will also include speakers with knowledge in related subjects.

The meeting begins at 4 p.m. More information can be obtained by calling 310.456.4843.

Santa Monica College facilities receive design awards

Santa Monica College facilities recently won five state and regional design awards, including three for the Theatre Arts Building, which opened in the fall of 2006.

“These honors are wonderful and demonstrate the care we take in working with architects to create facilities that are not only beautiful, but functional and frequently environmentally sensitive,” said Greg Brown, director of facilities planning.

The $17 million Theatre Arts Building, located on SMC’s main campus, won the California Construction magazine McGraw Hill Construction Award for Best Performing Arts, the Southern California Development Forum’s 17th annual Design Awards for Best Design and the Award of Honor from Real Estate & Construction Review for Top Projects in Southern California.

Also, the SMC Performing Arts Center won the California Construction magazine McGraw Hill Construction Award for Best Higher Education, and the Bundy Campus won an Award of Merit in the 2007 Professional Design Awards from the Community College Facility Coalition and California Community College Systems Office.

Holiday closures for newspaper office and City Hall

The Malibu Times building will close on Monday at 3 p.m. It will not be open on Christmas Day. The building will also close at 3 p.m. on Dec. 31, and be closed all day on Jan. 1

City Hall will be closed on Monday and Tuesday, as well as Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.

-Jonathan Friedman