The Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District has settled on an initial proposal that could eventually create a standalone Malibu School District.

At the March 20 special board meeting, the two sides seemed to agree to a 50-year revenue sharing plan that would allow the two districts to operate independently of each other with the possibility that Malibu schools could be reorganized into a semi-independent charter school program while the split is implemented.

In the agreed revenue sharing plan, the district would work with the City of Malibu on a framework built for: an equitable sharing of property between both districts, a potential sharing of discretionary or local revenues, a period of evaluating and/or adjusting the formula, a performance standard that any possible adjustments continue to be met, a guiding principle that stability and equity for all students in both districts is met, and that the possibility of a charter configuration be used as an interstitial bridge to full independence, if requested by Malibu.

The successful agreement between Santa Monica and Malibu school districts marks a positive foot forward for both districts after months of separation talks.

Mayor of Malibu Rick Mullen and Malibu city Councilmember Laura Rosenthal were on hand for the public speaking portion of the board meeting to share their thoughts on the proposed plan. “We want to say we are cautiously optimistic and pleased by this proposal,” Rosenthal said. “It offers a genuine path for an independent Malibu. Local control is the number one priority to benefit our children.”

Kevin Shenkman, a Malibu lawyer, was upset by the proposal, calling the inclusion of charter schools to Malibu an unworkable solution and a “potential disaster for unions.”

Board reception to the proposal was positive, save for the possibility of including charter schools to Malibu, with Boardmember Craig Foster calling their inclusion, “problematic,” but a problem that could be solved by a committee to oversee the districts separation.

Jon Kean, Vice President of the Board, noted that the Charter option isn’t an option for Santa Monica to decide, that Malibu could choose that option as a pathway to quicker independence, adding that if they choose to do so – despite knowing “no appetites for Charter in Malibu” — Santa Monica would support the choice.

Craig Foster, the only Malibu representative on the Santa Monica Malibu Unified District board, was satisfied with the proposal.

“When we started in 2010, people in Malibu wanted local control of their schools,” Foster said. “It was true in 2010 and its true now. From my point of view, that’s what we’re working for here and we’re doing that in a that’s way fair to both districts. For both communities, there’s great benefits in reaching this conclusion.”

The measure passed 6 – 1. Boardmember Maria Leon-Vazquez was the only No vote.

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