School officials say "Vote" on Prop X

Parents who have a child in a Malibu public school will soon be hearing about Proposition X. The bond measure would provide $42 million to renovate and upgrade Malibu and Santa Monica schools. Everyone from the principals to the PTA seems to be on the Prop X bandwagon. School children are bringing home flyers, and parents are spreading the word. Even the Malibu City Council gave its unanimous endorsement Monday in hopes of bringing needed improvements to local schools.

“We are a school that’s suppose to house about 896 students. We currently have 1,120 enrolled,” said Malibu High School Principal Michael Matthews. “We have students learning in teachers’ lounges. They’re in rooms designed for basketball teams at half time. We have a lot of inadequate facilities, plus we believe we’ll have another 100 students in the next three years.” Matthews said the school’s biggest need is for a new classroom building that would be paid for with Prop X funds.

“We’ve had to take over our child-care room for use as a kindergarten,” said Webster Elementary Principal Phil Cott. Because of the expanding student population and new student-teacher ratio restrictions, Webster had to add another kindergarten class this year. That pushed after-school care to the auditorium, which in turn forced out other activities, said Cott. “We’d like to re-establish the classroom for child care.”

Cott said the Proposition X money earmarked for Webster could help the school do just that, as well as “replace old and dangerous window systems and heating systems” and improve the parking lot in order to “reroute busses for safety and parent convenience.”

In all, $11.3 million (27 percent) of Proposition X money has been designated for Malibu schools. If the bond measure passes, Webster and Juan Cabrillo Elementary schools would receive $560,895 and $369,271, respectively, to be used for new classrooms and schoolwide facility improvements. Point Dume Marine Science Elementary would get a $2 million renovation of its infrastructure and Malibu High would be slated for $6,228,613, which would pay for the new 10-12 classroom building, a gymnasium, track and refurbishing of the auditorium/theater.

In a letter to parents, Matthews urged, “Please get as much information as possible, inform your neighbors and contact the school if you want to get involved.” Matthews added, “As you can see, the items we receive will benefit not only the school, but also the entire Malibu community.”

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The measure has no apparent foes and no opposing statement will appear on the Nov. 3 ballot. Part of the bond’s popularity is its boast that it will not increase current property taxes. Proponents say the ability to refinance old bonds at lowered interest rates and improved property values will offset the cost of the new bond.

Those involved, however, say when you’re dealing with the concept of bond measures, which require a two-thirds vote, it is still an uphill battle. “Every ‘no’ vote cancels two yeses,” said Matthews. “So for us, voter turnout is crucial.” “That’s what’s prompting us to really make a strong campaign effort,” said Cott. “I can’t use school facilities, school time and my time as a paid employee to campaign,” Cott said, “but I certainly have the right to voice my opinion on my own time.”

Cott said he will do whatever he can legally to get the word out in support of Proposition X. “No one is against it,” Cott said. “We all think it will pass, but we want to say that we didn’t get lazy and didn’t get complacent and have it fail by a third of a percent.” Cott said when it comes to past elections, the Malibu community has been favorable toward its schools, and the schools have worked very hard to maintain the quality that will “make people feel safe in investing in us again.”

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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