New AMPS Board Looks to ‘Re-Engage the Community’

AMPS representatives at the 2018 Malibu Chili Cook-Off. Pictured, from left: AMPS board members Seth Jacobson, Roui Israel, Bessie Zhang, AMPS President Kathryn Alice, past AMPS president Karen Farrer, School Board Member Craig Foster, Christi Hovest and Carl Randall

Local nonprofit organization Advocates for Public Malibu Schools is amped up for the current school year with a new board of directors, set of goals and a number of key decisions coming down the pipeline for Malibu schools.

School parent and author Kathryn Alice will serve as president of the nonprofit, better known as AMPS, for its sixth year. In a phone call with The Malibu Times, Alice said that, save one teacher on board, “Everybody has children in a district [which is] to a larger extent why we do this.”

“I think it’s good for everybody. Everybody benefits from having strong schools,” she added.

The rest of the board includes:

*Nora Cohen, Manel Sweetmore—executive vice presidents

*Christy Hovest—secretary

*Bessie Zhang—treasurer

*Jerel Taylor—assistant treasurer

*Additional board members are Carl Randall, Melanie Goudzwaard, Michelle Kahen-Delrahim, Stacy Rouse and Roui Israel

Its first order of business is advocating for a Malibu school bond.

“Well, our big emphasis right now—because it’s imminent—is to get people aware of [the school bond],” Alice said. “We very much think it would be good for the schools.” 

The cause is near and dear to former AMPS president Karen Farrer, who spoke at length with The Malibu Times about the past less-than-satisfactory school bonds—passed in 2006 and 2012, respectively.

“They were specifically drafted to take advantage of Malibu … The ballot language stated that Malibu would pay 30 percent and receive not more than 20 percent—even the 20 percent was not guaranteed,” she described. “What that meant with those two bonds [was that] Malibu, between the two of them, gave $91 million to rebuild Santa Monica High School.”

For the first time, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District approved two school facilities improvement bonds—one for Santa Monica, one for Malibu—to appear on this year’s November ballot.

Both Alice and Farrer spoke positively about AMPS’ overall goal to achieve school district separation between the two cities, to—as Alice put it—secure “the schools Malibu should have.”

In the past year alone, the school board approved a new Malibu Pathways director, struck down districtwide fundraising and moved forward with a plan to combine Juan Cabrillo Elementary School and Point Dume Marine Science School and establish a separate middle school in the Juan Cabrillo space.

To keep the community informed, AMPS will be kicking off the year with a town hall meeting on Sept. 12 to discuss these changes and more with SMMUSD Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati, Malibu Pathways Director Isaac Burgess IV and School Board Member Craig Foster at Malibu City Hall at 7 p.m. 

About Wednesday’s town hall meeting, Farrer said: “There are parents of younger kids or people that have moved here in the last year who either have not heard of AMPS or are not quite sure what it’s about, [so] it’s a good time to re-engage the community.”

For more information on the Sept. 12 town hall meeting, contact Kathryn Alice at Malibu City Hall is located at 23825 Stuart Ranch Road.