The amicable divorce between Santa Monica and Malibu continues as both sides agreed to a revision in policy that would divide their school district fundraising models, allowing greater autonomy to both districts.

At a Thursday, June 28 Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District board meeting, the board approved plans to amend the once controversial centralized fundraising model. In layman’s terms, the revision and split means that money fundraised in Santa Monica will be used solely for Santa Monica, and that money fundraised in Malibu will be used solely for Malibu.

The revision was guided by representatives of the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation (SMMEF), PTA Council, Malibu PTAs, Malibu principals, several Board members and others. The newly proposed fundraising structure is similar in function to the approved School Facility Improvement Districts for Malibu and Santa Monica.

A press release from the Ed Foundation said the organization will continue to raise money for district-approved Santa Monica programs such as elementary arts, instructional assistants, ballroom dance and stretch grants. Malibu’s thus far unnamed non-profit fundraising entity that will raise funds for similar programs will be announced soon.

Under the plan, the board would maintain and develop programs from both communities and have two separate MOUs (memorandums of understanding; a document establishing goodwill between agreeing parties). The SMMUSD Board of Education — upon the recommendation of the Superintendent and staff — will approve programs, after collaboration with Superintendent Advisory Committees, of which one will be made for each city. Both communities will follow the same policy.

The change has been in place a few days now as the revision was enacted to begin at the start of the new fiscal year, July 1, 2018.

“I believe this change will lead to even stronger support for our schools in both communities,” said district superintendent Dr. Ben Drati, in a letter to community members. “Our district continues its firm commitment to programmatic equity across our schools … Your donations to our schools set Santa Monica and Malibu apart from most districts and allow us to provide outstanding arts, STEM and more for our students. I look forward to our continued success in this new fundraising structure.”

A report from the district showed that for the past five years, 95% of monies raised from parents in the district has come from Santa Monica parents while only 5% of monies raised has come from Malibu, a city with a much smaller population. Members from both communities felt that dividing fundraising would bring greater independence to Santa Monica and Malibu as the districts attempt to increase fundraising for students while making sure program equity remains the same.

Angel@smdp.com

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