MALIBU — A coalition of Malibu parents and teachers submitted an application on Monday to turn Point Dume Marine Science Elementary School into a charter campus — just the second such move in Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District history.
The district has two months to review the application and present it to the seven-member school board for a decision, though a deadline extension is possible.
The first charter school conversion attempt, by SMASH Alternative School in 2003, was voted down by the school board.
Robyn Ross, a parent and co-lead petitioner, said the effort has broad support among members of the Point Dume community, including from all 12 teachers at the campus.
“We really feel that with the declining enrollment we’re going to be a target for closure, so we’re trying to be proactive and not let that happen,” she said.
The state budget crisis is also a motivating factor, she said.
“We just don’t know what’s coming down [from Sacramento] and we want to have more local control over the funds and over our children’s education.”
Reached on Tuesday, school board president Barry Snell said the district will hire a consultant to evaluate the group’s lengthy application and will hold a public hearing before making a final decision sometime after the November election.
“Obviously, anyone has the right to submit an application for a charter school. I’m not prepared to make any comment as to whether I’m for it or against it until I can see if it benefits the district,” he said.
School Board Member Oscar de la Torre said the board rejected SMASH’s charter conversion application because it failed to show a convincing plan to keep the school solvent.
“The biggest stumbling block in this process is showing financial viability,” he said. “If Point Dume can do that, I think they’ll have a foot up on the last charter proposal we considered.”
Ross said the petition includes a detailed three-year budget for the proposed charter school that includes financial commitments from donors.
“I think we will be completely viable,” she said.