School district seeking Malibu rep for committee

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The Financial Oversight Committee monitors district finances, and often serves as a stepping-stone to the Board of Education.

By Knowles Adkisson / The Malibu Times

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is seeking Malibu applicants for its 11-member Financial Oversight Committee [FOC]. Ten of the positions are currently filled by Santa Monica residents, and the committee is currently holding a place for a Malibu resident.

“We really want the geographical representation,” FOC Chair Gordon Lee said.

Malibu does not have local representation at the district level since Malibu resident Kathy Wisnicki last served on the district’s Board of Education more than three years ago.

The FOC’s responsibilities include reviewing the district’s annual audit, monitoring funding from parcel taxes and reviewing matters that could have an effect on district finances before the board takes action. Applicants must live within SMMUSD boundaries, and knowledge of or experience with financial, management or legal issues is preferred. The deadline for applications is Friday, April 29.

Wisnicki got her start at the district level on the FOC. Wisnicki believes it is important to have a Malibu voice during budgetary discussions.

“When I was on the committee, people would ask me… how is this going to go in Malibu, how is this going to affect Malibu residents?” Wisnicki said.

That input is especially important, Wisnicki said, to make sure that Malibu schools get their fair share of funding from Measure R, a $346-per-year parcel tax passed in 2008 and charged to residents who live within SMMUSD boundaries.

The FOC opening could also be valuable for developing leadership at the district level for Malibu representatives. Wisnicki said her time on the FOC helped give her the knowledge and experience to make a successful run for the Board of Education.

“It’s the best committee to be on, I think, if you’re thinking of running for the school board… it’s the best way to get to know the school board budget. And it’s really important.”

Wisnicki said she “absolutely” thinks there are many people in Malibu qualified for the position. Citing her own experience, Wisnicki said, even though she wasn’t “necessarily an accountant or a banker,” she learned about district finance on the job.

“It’s a position that over time you get up to speed on,” Wisnicki said. “You may not know everything right away, but if someone is willing to work hard and understand the issues, then I think we have a number of qualified people.”

Application forms are available through the Superintendent’s Office or on the district Web site at www.smmusd.org/fiscal/financialDAC.html.

Applications can be mailed to the district office at 1651 16th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404, faxed to 310.581.1138, or scanned and emailed to Sarah Wahrenbrock at swarhenbrock@smmusd.org.