SMMUSD HDQTRS — Twenty teachers in Santa Monica and Malibu classrooms this fall will have jobs thanks to donations to the “Save Our Schools” campaign, which raised more than $1.5 million for the financially-strapped district in the past two months.
The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s seven-member board allocated the donated money on Wednesday, unanimously approving the district staff’s recommendation to fill 9.5 elementary teacher positions, two secondary teacher positions and a total of 8.25 counseling, elementary music and school library positions.
In addition to spending the SOS funds, the board also approved hiring 10 more teachers and other school site personnel, and allocated $113,000 for middle school teacher professional development based on updated estimates of funding the district expects to receive from the federal government.
“The community support from Save Our Schools is an inspiration,” said Monica Micale, a teacher at Franklin Elementary School who received a pink slip this year. “It helps me continue doing what I love with the knowledge that I am not alone in my efforts to afford our children a chance at a better future. Instead, I am part of a family that embodies the true definition of community.”
After laying off 58 teachers this spring as part of $7.1 million in budget cuts, the cash influx from the SOS campaign means all of the teachers who received pink slips will be able to return, said Superintendent Tim Cuneo.
“What a success story this is,” he said. “It really, I think, is a testament of the community’s commitment to the public schools and their trust in us that we deliver a really fine instructional program for their children.”
The newly approved hires will reduce class sizes in kindergarten classrooms from 27 students per teacher to 23 students per teacher. First through third grade class sizes will shrink from 27 students to 25 students, according to the district.
“None of this could have happened without the success of the SOS campaign,” said School Board Member Oscar de la Torre. “The overall sentiment on the board is that we need to restore employment for the teachers who are the most valuable asset in our public education system.”
He said the board’s decisions showed a “focus on investing our dollars in the classroom versus administrative overhead.”
The district had little discretion over how to spend much of the money raised during the SOS campaign, since donors were able to earmark their contributions for specific programs.
Of the $1.5 million raised, $655,000 was designated to relieve elementary class sizes, $332,000 was to relieve secondary class sizes and $397,000 was to fund music programs and pay for school libraries.