MALIBU CITY HALL — District officials may relax restrictions on the number of students from outside district boundaries that may attend school in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District in order to increase enrollment and state funding to local schools.

The concept, presented to the Board of Education at its meeting Thursday night in Malibu, revolves around increasing the number of available permits for the 2012-13 school year from 200 to 300.

The new policy would end a moratorium prohibiting permit students from entering during grades seven through 11.

It would also add international students as a seventh type of student eligible for a permit into the district.

New students bring in additional money to the district, approximately $5,300 from the state per child added to the school district.

The proposal came against the backdrop of a report by Dr. Dean Waldfogel of DecisionInsite, a team that makes projections of the number of students that will attend the district over the course of the next five years.

The report showed relatively stable enrollment, but that approximately 13 percent of SMMUSD students come from outside of the district, and of those, 11.5 percent are permit.

That’s a marked difference from the over 20 percent permit students that comprised the SMMUSD population in the early 2000s, when the Board of Education approved a moratorium on permit entry.

Board member Jose Escarce rallied behind the staff suggestion, asking for a three-point plan that would increase the number of permit students in the district to bring the total population up to 11,500 students and make sure that happens by the 2012-13 school year.

First, the district would determine how to get to a carrying capacity of 11,500 students. Then it would have to do so by getting the permit applications and accepting them by spring of the current year.

According to DecisionInsite, the district currently has 11,249 students.

“There is some room to help permit students, and gives us the ability to get back to where we were,” Escarce said. “Nothing dramatic, nothing outlandish.”

In Escarce’s estimation, every additional 25 students would require an extra teacher, but the added money from the state would far outweigh the cost at the district level.

Getting new students is the trick.

The vast majority of permit transfer students come from the Los Angeles Unified School District, which only allows transfer students throughout the year that have parents which work in the district to which they will transfer.

Any other transfer is contingent on the destination district having a program not available in the home district, and the application has to arrive between March 1 and April 30, said Melissa Schoonmaker of LAUSD.

The district will have to complete the studies and change the policy prior to the end of that deadline if it expects to entice the additional students to apply for permits.

“There is some urgency,” Escarce said. “The earlier we do it, the easier.”

Staff will come back to the board with cut off dates for other school districts and a complete analysis of how many students each school can support and what grades they fall in.

ashley@www.smdp.com

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