The local Board of Education on Wednesday evening will examine the Santa Monica-Malibu school district’s strategies and programs for improving student achievement.
Board members will take a look at the so-called Response to Instruction and Intervention, a framework that includes screening students, monitoring their progress and offering differentiated support based on their needs.
The board is expected to hear an update from district officials on the results of screenings and plans for the future.
The program study comes as the district attempts to close longstanding academic achievement gaps between minority students and their peers.
SMMUSD last year hired renowned education reformist Pedro Noguera to identify obstacles in the district and help officials implement programs to improve student outcomes.
The district is working to keep a focus on closing the achievement gap as it searches for a long-term superintendent to replace Sandra Lyon. Interim co-chiefs Chris King and Sylvia Rousseau are scheduled to lead the district through the end of the calendar year.
Noguera has said that “distractions” in the district — including chemical testing and cleanup in Malibu, which has sparked litigation; debates over centralized fundraising, which was recently implemented; and exploration of a possible split into separate Santa Monica and Malibu entities — have prevented SMMUSD from making lasting progress on the issue.
“If equity is a priority,” he said, “how does it show up in our time in meetings and in our budget? … How much time in board meetings do you spend really thinking about the kids? If it doesn’t get attention, it’s not a priority.”
As the district faces a $10-million deficit in its operating budget heading into the 2016-17 school year, the school board is also looking at the potential consequences of reduced state funding.
A revised state budget reveals that SMMUSD will lose out on more than $290,000 in funding it expected to receive through California channels.
The district is now planning to receive $2.69 million in block grants and one-time discretionary funding, down from the $2.93 million it was expecting. That’s due to a decrease in discretionary funding from $237 per average student in attendance to $214.
The district is also taking a small hit in revenue through the Local Control Funding Formula, which gives districts more responsibility in handling state funds. SMMUSD is planning to get $87,530,258 through the program this coming school year, down nearly $50,000 from the budget that was recently adopted by the board.
BACKING A TAX
The school board is expected to pass a resolution endorsing a City of Santa Monica tax that will come before voters in November.
Revenue from the measure, which would activate a one-half percent increase in the transactions and use tax, would be split between affordable housing and education initiatives, officials have said.
The proposed resolution notes the impact of the loss of state redevelopment funds and the potential of the tax to “support educational advancement for youth within the community” while reducing the City’s reliance on the state budget.