SM-MUSD Special Ed asks for $1.25 million more in funds


As the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District board members are preparing to allocate funds for the next fiscal year, the Special Education Department says they need an additional $1.25 million more than last year’s budget.

At a board meeting Thursday, the SM-MUSD superintendents of Special Education, Laurel Schmidt and Rose Ecker, presented a comprehensive plan for the 2000-2001 school year that would shape up the district-wide program and bring it back to compliance.

“Are we willing to think outside of the box and take some risks?” said superintendent Neil Schmidt. “We’re at a juncture where we have to take a really hard look at how we’re going to invest in our children.”

Board members spontaneously agreed to discuss forming a new position called “Assistant Superintendent/Student Services” at another meeting which took place Wednesday.

“That would allow us the leadership we need and the connections with county and state,” said Ecker.

“It is my strong belief that because of the depth and breadth of responsibilities and challenges facing Special Education/Student Services, including our responsibility and commitment to continuously looking at ways of doing a better job to meet the needs of all our students, it is important that the board approve the establishment of this position,” said Neil Schmidt.

Special Ed outlined a plan that calls for

  • Building new classes and buildings to relieve overcrowding,
  • Providing occupational and physical therapy services at schools using district personnel
  • Establishing services and training personnel for autistic students
  • Adding support staff, reading specialists and speech pathologists
  • Increasing the central office staff.

Although the new plan would reduce the amount of money currently being paid to agencies, the projected amount is partly attributed to hiring district personnel, training teachers and hiring Inclusion Specialists for eventual integration of special education and regular education.

In other action, the board heard that bid packages for district-wide school modernization are going through.

Portions of Bid Package 1C, for upgrades for the physically handicapped at Pt. Dume and Webster school campuses, were distributed to contractors by Monday.

Plans for the scopes of work for Bid Packages 2B and 2C (Recreation Fields, Panelized/Portable classrooms and the Recreation Buildings) were also distributed by Monday.

Plans for Bid Package 3A, for Malibu High School’s wider, all-weather track and expanded staff parking, will be distributed by next Monday.

Board members fine-tuned the measure to be added to the general election ballot this November for a $98 parcel tax for the next ten years, adjusted annually according with the Consumer Price Index-Urban.

The date for the public hearing on the issue will be June 29.

The tax, otherwise known as Proposition K, would generate more than $3 million in revenues starting in 2001-2002.

In his report, the superintendent released an assessment of “Unmet Programmatic and Operational Needs.”

While the exact cost per program or need was not written, the total cost in this early assessment is reckoned at $12-15 million.

While the superintendent held the floor, he officially announced his and his assistant’s retirement next year in June.