THE NOD: The Santa Monica Democrats Club endorsed Board of Education member Ben Allen (standing) for the State Senate seat being vacated by Ted Lieu, who is running for Congress. (David Mark Simpson

SMMUSD HDQRTRS — The Board of Education will be down a member for at least the next couple months.

Ben Allen resigned from the Ed Board last month in order to join the State Senate. The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District has begun the process of filling his vacant seat.

Two years remain on his Ed Board term.

The application for the seat is scheduled to go online today, Superintendent Sandra Lyon told the board last month.

Allen’s seat will be filled through a nomination process rather than a special election because the cost of the latter is estimated to be a million dollars, Lyon told the board.

The issue could go to a special election, however, if the board’s nomination is challenged through signed petitions from 1.5 percent of the registered electorate, Lyon said.

“That’s all?” responded Boardmember Jose Escarce. As of the most recent election, 1.5 percent of the registered electorate would equate to just over 1,000 people.

Lyon noted that the cost of a special election would have to be included on the petitions.

That million dollars would come from the district’s General Fund.

The board has 60 days from the date of Allen’s resignation, which was scheduled to take place on Nov. 24, to pick a successor.

Board Chair Maria Leon-Vazquez will assemble a sub-committee of no more than three board members to help guide the process. Applicants will have until Dec. 18 to apply, Lyon said.

At a public meeting, scheduled for Jan. 15, each applicant will be asked the same set of questions. If all goes smoothly, the six-member board could nominate a new member that night. If not, the district has built in some buffer time to hold a follow-up meeting.

“It’s a very difficult thing,” Lyon told the board. “Some of you have been through it before. I’ve been through it as well. At the interview, the applicant will come in and be interviewed in public. The other applicants will remain in the conference room and will come back in and the entire deliberation and nomination and voting takes place in public.”

There will be a 30-day window, from the date of the official nomination, for petitioners to challenge the process. If there is not a successful challenge, the board’s choice would be selected.

Outgoing Boardmember Ralph Mechur was the last member to be appointed, in 2007, after a then-recently-elected Emily Bloomfield announced she would step down from the board because her family was moving to Washington, D.C.

He then won election in 2010.

Mechur, who finished fifth in a race for four seats last month, told the Daily Press he’d be interested in filling Allen’s seat.

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