SMMUSD HDQTRS — Expanding the number of permit students allowed into the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District could push revenue from new enrollment over the half million dollar mark, according to a presentation to the Board of Education on Thursday.

The analysis came as a response to a request by the school board in February to study the implications of increasing the number of students allowed to enter the district on permits to bolster total district enrollment to 11,500 students.

The new policy would end a moratorium on new interdistrict permits between kindergarten and 11th grade, increasing the total number of permits offered from 200 to 300.

The change would also encourage international high school students to enroll in the district.

Assuming an increased enrollment of 170 students at slightly less-than-perfect attendance (who doesn’t get sick every once in a while?), opening the district’s doors a little wider could mean $876,213 from the state.

Subtract the costs of four new teaching positions ($80,000), supplies and materials ($8,500), the projected net gain pencils out to $547,713, according to figures provided by the district.

Board member Jose Escarce, who has advocated for changing the limit to increase the total enrollment to 11,500, called it a modest goal. The district currently has 11,249 students, according to a firm hired to study enrollment projections.

“We might get there, or closer than we are now,” Escarce said. “This is a measured, conservative proposal.”

Under the plan, permits would be issued at various grade levels based on the amount of space available in the district.

Kindergarten had the most space, with a maximum of 50 permits proposed.

John Adams Middle School and Lincoln Middle School were elected to support no more than 10 new sixth graders between the two schools.

Grades seven and eight could in both locations take in 10 students each.

Santa Monica High School would be opened to allow no more than 20 new students in each grade level except 12th.

All Malibu schools have an open permit policy.

Permits would be issued as space is available in grades one through five.

The district already has 1,352 students on permit at its various schools, or roughly 11.5 percent of the total population.

That’s down considerably from the 20 or more percent that permit students comprised in the early 2000s when the Board of Education first approved a moratorium on permit entry.

The concentration of permit students ranges widely from school to school. Edison Language Academy has the highest percentage with almost a third of the school population made up of students on permit.

Franklin Elementary only has 1.1 percent of its school population on permit.

If the schools could attract the 50 proposed kindergarteners, they would create two kindergarten classes, likely in McKinley Elementary or Grant Elementary, said Debra Moore Washington, the SMMUSD’s assistant superintendent of human resources.

What grade levels of students would be accepted into the district would depend on who applies for permits, said Marolyn Freedman, SMMUSD’s director of student services.

“When we get the applications, we’ll find out what the numbers would be. We can make firmer decisions at that time,” Freedman said.

The policy also identifies “priority categories” of students that would get the first crack at openings.

Those include children of district employees, children of parents who work within the district boundaries and children of City Hall or Santa Monica College employees.

A new category was suggested for international high school students.

Board President Ben Allen also pushed for grandchildren of current Santa Monica residents to get special consideration for permits.

“I’m anxious that if we’re going to increase permits, we work hard to make sure they have a tangible connection to the community,” Allen said.

People with grandchildren in the district help the schools through their tax dollars and support for parcel taxes at the polls, he noted.

Staff resisted that measure because of the difficulty inherent in proving that the student in question was the grandchild of the resident.

They also said that most outside districts only grant interdistrict transfers if there’s a parent employed in the boundaries of the new school district.

Los Angeles Unified School District, for example, only lets kids leave the district for parent employment, continuing enrollment for certain grades if the student moved out of their original district, or special programs not available at LAUSD.

New this year, LAUSD will also allow students to leave if their siblings attend school in an outside district.

The board will likely vote on interdistrict permits at their next meeting on Thursday, March 15.

ashley@www.smdp.com

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