Local preschools have received close to $600,000 for facility improvements, according to the Santa Monica-Malibu school district’s advisory committee on child care and development.

But there was a catch: Spending the money quickly enough, especially if it was received late in the school year, proved difficult, committee chair Alex Farivar said.

The funding for Head Start came through in four phases. There was $15,000 allocated in the first round, $49,449 in the second, $400,000 in the third and $125,000 in the fourth, according to a committee report.

The district Board of Education heard brief updates from several SMMUSD advisory committees during its June 24 meeting, and lengthier discussions are expected to be held in the coming months. The school board aims to approve the panels’ goals for 2015-16 by October.

Farivar’s committee is responsible for guiding district action on early childhood education, Cradle to Career programming, transitional kindergarten and funding for the aforementioned efforts. The committee also reviews data on preschool activities and helps the district with parent outreach.

Farivar is a product of the district who attended Franklin Elementary, Lincoln Middle and Santa Monica High schools. He then studied business and education at UC Berkeley and worked for Apple in finance and planning before going to graduate school at the University of Michigan.

Farivar is now back in Santa Monica, where he works as a product manager for an educational technology company.

Thousands of books

A national nonprofit organization donated 2,200 books for young readers in the district, according to the committee report.

The books — given by the Molina Foundation, which aims to reduce disparities in access to education and health — are intended for learners in third grade and below.

The foundation’s signature program, Book Buddies, has distributed nearly 3 million new children’s books to schools and service groups since its inception in 2004.

Gathering place

Virginia Avenue Park has become an important destination for early childhood events.

More than 50 people participated in an annual preschool conference at the park, according to the committee report.

The park also hosted some 500 children during an arts and literacy festival, which was held in collaboration with the Pico branch of the Santa Monica Public Library.

The events were “pretty successful,” Farivar said.

Preschools audited

State auditors recently evaluated SMMUSD preschool programs, according to the committee report.

Auditors reviewed 68 family files and 19 child portfolios as well as lesson plans, attendance sheets and parent and staff meeting agendas and minutes.

Findings will be released at a later date.

New playground

Will Rogers Learning Community has established a new playground, a project that resulted from collaboration between the district and the school’s Parent Teacher Association.

Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, jeff@www.smdp.com or on Twitter.

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