Letter regarding school separation Article on Nov. 3
Thank you for your article on Nov. 3 concerning the recent historic agreement on the framework for unification which will lead to an independent Malibu Unified School District (MUSD) and an independent Santa Monica Unified School District (SMUSD). While there still is substantive work to be done, this is a time to celebrate the hard work of the teams from SMMUSD and the City of Malibu that got us to this point. This is where the article both falls short and misses details of the progress that has been accomplished—as well as the agreed upon pathway for what lies ahead.
The article (and the reaction of the City Attorney and the quoted councilmember) fails to understand the impact of the agreed-upon framework. Yes, we have work left to do as we stress-test our figures and validate our assumptions. But the revenue sharing formula—a prior point of contention—is fully expressed in the agreement. Ultimately, the tax revenue sharing agreement must be voted upon, but the formula is completed. It must only be validated. This was always the stumbling block in previous discussions, and why there is a reason to celebrate this agreement as it finally put forth an equitable financial model for both sides.
The operational agreement and Joint Powers Agreement are not stumbling blocks but technical mechanisms to define the process. Right now, the remaining work left to do is for the protection of students in both communities. We have the framework; we just need to ensure that we don’t harm or hamper future school boards and councils with our numbers, framework, and assumptions.
As the work proceeds in collaboration, now is a time for patience, not criticism or negativity. There has been enough of that on both sides for years. Let’s accept victory. Our work isn’t finished. As they say of mountain climbing, when you reach the summit, you are only half way there. We have reached the proverbial summit and now are simply descending. My deep thanks go out to the team from Malibu: Mikke Pierson, Karen Farrer, and (formerly) Rick Mullen as well, as the team from Santa Monica: Laurie Lieberman, Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein, and myself, as well as the numerous staff members and consultants who contributed countless hours in this process. Let’s rise above the distrust and political posturing and finish our work for all the students in both communities.
SMMUSD School Board Member