While city officials and a parent activist looked on, city of Malibu staffers met with Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education members to prevent a repeat of the school funding crisis that only ended last month.
The city of Malibu had given a $150,000 grant and Santa Monica had given $2.1 million to the district, prompting this meeting.
Since both grants were one-time funding to maintain programs at the current level, the cities want to know why the shortfall happened and ways to generate “ongoing revenue streams,” said school district Superintendent Neil Schmidt.
The audience included City Council Members Carolyn Van Horn, Walt Keller and Joan House; Parks and Recreation Commissioner Pat Greenwood; and Webster PTA, PTA Council and Malibu Foundation for Youth and Families representative Deirdre Roney.
City Treasurer Pete Lippman, outgoing City Manager Harry Peacock, Finance Director Bill Thomas and Parks and Recreation Director Paul Adams represented the city in talking to Schmidt, Assistant Superintendent Art Cohen, and Board of Education members Tom Pratt and Pam Brady.
A sample of the issues follows:
- Performance audit. Lippman was concerned about the “ocean of expenditures,” especially the effect of the 6 percent raise for teachers on budget reserves. He wanted to know what was planned for next year’s budget, and the assumptions it was based on, especially the average daily attendance figures that support state funding. Schmidt responded that the timing of negotiations on teachers’ salaries would be changed to fall instead of spring; the board would rely more on a legal advisor, reserves would be doubled, the board is establishing a financial oversight committee, and it will conduct a “performance audit” of its practices and projections.
- Increased government funding. Pam Brady said the board was working on increasing state and federal funding for health care and special education.
- Parcel tax. Peacock said an “enrichment” amount could be added to the parcel tax the district is seeking to renew in November. Communities recognize a good education benefits everyone, and most people in Malibu would be willing to double the current $73 per parcel tax, especially if site governance committees were established, Peacock said.
- Comparison with other school districts. Peacock thought it would be a good idea to know what other top-rated school districts, such as Beverly Hills, Las Virgenes or Palos Verdes, pay to get their results.
The next city/district meeting is scheduled for April 7. City Manager Harry Peacock can be reached at 23555 Civic Center Way, Malibu 90265, telephone 456.2489, fax 456.2760. The Board of Education can be reached at 1651-16th St., Santa Monica, CA 90404-3891, telephone 450.8338, fax 581-1138 or e-mail email@example.com