LINCOLN MIDDLE SCHOOL — The Board of Education will hold a special meeting Tuesday to vote on a change in fundraising policy which would prohibit parent groups from raising money to pay for staff at specific school sites.

Instead, the nonprofit group Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation, under the leadership of Executive Director Linda Gross, would be in charge of bringing in money to pay for staff and programs that would benefit all schools in the district.

Parent Teacher Associations could still pay for technology, field trips, assemblies and other extras.

The changes would first take place at the elementary school level after an 18-month implementation period.

District Superintendent Sandra Lyon has said in public meetings that the fundraising model would ensure parity of programs so that no school in the district would have significantly more than another in terms of classes available during the school day.

“From where I sit, from the balcony view, looking at the district as a unified school district, using PTA to pay for staff is fraught with difficulties,” Lyon said at the Nov. 3 meeting in Malibu. “Ultimately, it creates a climate in which instruction and instructional experiences can be different from one school to the next.”

From the hours of 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., each student should get the same chance for a quality education as any other in the district, Lyon said.

Now, the programs available at each school site depend on how much money parents bring in, which can vary by more than $2,000 between the highest-raising school and the lowest.

The issue, debated in two packed public meetings in Malibu and Santa Monica, has revealed a rift between groups in both cities that either approve of the concept and want to see it implemented immediately, or feel the district would be taking from successful schools without a comprehensive plan.

Detractors say that without crafting a detailed strategy with community input, fundraising will go down and all schools will suffer.

The Board of Education is expected to go to a vote on the matter Tuesday. Rather than the district office, the meeting will be held at Lincoln Middle School on 1501 California Ave.

The district changed the venue in order to accommodate more people. At the Nov. 17 meeting, attendees overran the district headquarters and two overflow rooms provided for observers.

A post on the Malibu parent blog after the contentious Nov. 17 meeting suggested that while parents were free to attend, there would be no effort to bring out the crowds as at previous meetings.

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