To New Beginnings

Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati (center left) and Malibu Middle School Principal Melisa Andino (center right) cut the ribbon on the new building, surrounded by school district and city officials.

After years of planning, Malibu Middle School students will be sitting in a new building next Thursday for the fall 2019 school year. The Santa Monica – Malibu Unified School District Board of Education and Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony and a first look into the classroom building on Tuesday afternoon.

Located on the south side of the Malibu High School campus, the new building will provide students, teachers and staff a state of the art and sustainable environment for the upcoming school year.

A 51-year-old structure that one time contained PCB toxins was torn down in July 2017 to make room for the new, modular building, construction of which was initially set to finish by fall 2018. 

Santa Monica-Malibu School Board Member Craig Foster, the board’s only Malibu representative, introduced the ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s so great to be here to share this occasion with you; we worked so hard and so many people have tried so hard to get this done before the school year,” Foster said.

Among those attending were Malibu High School Principal Patrick Miller, Malibu Elementary Principal Chris Hertz, Webster Elementary Principal Lila Daruty, Malibu Middle School Principal Melisa Andino—all entering their first years in their respective roles—as well as city council members and board of education members.

The project was funded through bond measure funds and is managed by the SMMUSD, Foster said. Measure ES passed in 2012, freeing up funds that were used toward Malibu High School and Malibu Middle School. 

“On behalf of the school district, students and teachers, I want to thank all the residents of Malibu for passing these funds, passing Measure M and making this possible. The spaces are so important for our kids today,” said Foster. 

Foster introduced Drati, who spoke about the bond measure and the facility changes that were made.

“After careful studies by our staff, the school board authorized the complete demolition of Building E,” Drati said. “Today we stand in front of the new beautiful building Malibu Middle School students will enjoy for decades to come.”

Drati said this is one step toward their expansive Malibu plan, some of which was enacted as a response to concerns over PCB contamination—which necessitated the replacement of windows, paint, doors and doorframes.

“The work that the bonds did was technology upgrades, windows, paint, doors and frames in Santa Monica and Malibu [schools],” Drati said.

Community members and parents who attended said they were excited about the new remodel. Parent Heather Wildman and daughter Windy Wildman, who starts eighth grade next semester, are excited to see her where her classrooms will be. Windy also sang the National Anthem at the ceremony.

“She just found out she has three classes in the new building,” Wildman said. “They[‘ve] needed a new school for a long time.”

Andino, who will begin her first year as the Malibu Middle School principal, is aiming to build and focus on their students needs.

“This past year because of the fire, we lost about 20 or so days of instruction, but the Malibu community is resilient,” Andino said. “This is a community that I’m lucky to serve. Our students are amazing, our parents are involved and helpful and we were able to come back from that.”

“We hope to make sure people understand what [the] 21st century has to bring to our students—it’s exciting times, but it could also be intimidating,” Drati said. “We are resilient people, with what we experienced with the fires and mudslides it was chaos, but the students were able to end the school year well.

“I remember when we were having these conversations in the beginning—the vision for Malibu and I was so excited a lot of people had the same vision I had where education is headed in the future,” Drati said.