In recent years, state budget changes led the Santa Monica-Malibu school district to cut back on professional development.

But it appears that’s going to change.

The local Board of Education will discuss professional development opportunities and goals for staff during its meeting Thursday night in Malibu, an indication that new funding systems seem to be allowing the district more flexibility in how it spends its money.

The district is “well-positioned” to increase development for staff, according to an SMMUSD report.

The board discussion will come as it reviews several contracts involving professional development. Up for official approval are a roughly $37,900 contract with Solution Tree for training in professional learning communities; an $18,000 agreement with Thinking Maps for 12 days of staff development at Franklin Elementary School; and a contract of nearly $19,000 to Hazelton Publishing that includes bullying training for SMMUSD staff.

The consent calendar includes a $35,000 payment to The Reading and Writing Project for professional development.

Meanwhile, a proposed $98,000 grant agreement between the district and Los Angeles Universal Preschool includes $14,000 for professional development.

Consent calendar

The school board will consider approval of a consent calendar that includes nearly $1.8 million in new purchase orders.

The list includes $500,000 to Pillsbury and $400,000 to Environ, which the district has hired for legal counsel and chemical testing and cleanup, respectively. SMMUSD has spent millions of dollars on consultants and legal fees since the discovery of polychlorinated biphenyls at Malibu schools.

The consent calendar also includes $60,000 to Mayor Kevin McKeown for computer support, $25,000 to Goodwin Procter LLP for real estate advice; more than $24,000 for computers and another $20,000 for the student spaceflight experiment program at Lincoln Middle School; $18,500 to Achieve 3000 for literacy services at Will Rogers Learning Community; $15,000 to Reading Partners for literacy coaching; nearly $15,000 to The Exploratory for STEM programming at John Muir Elementary School; more than $14,000 to Lynn Kleiner for music instruction at Will Rogers; and nearly $12,000 to Waxie Sanitary Supply for door mats.

Retirement benefits

SMMUSD is soon expected to join a different trust fund for employee retirement benefits.

The school board will consider adopting a resolution to move money into the California Employers’ Retiree Benefit Trust.

The school board’s vote comes after a recent meeting during which members generally agreed with the Financial Oversight Committee’s recommendation to switch plans.

The board has discussed a variety of options, including the extent of exposure to the stock market and the potential impacts on district coffers.

SMMUSD could join the new plan as early as next year.

A session without Lyon

Superintendent Sandra Lyon will miss the upcoming meeting, her first absence since starting as the district’s top administrator in 2011.

Lyon is attending the Suburban School Superintendents conference in Boston, where she’ll meet with other education leaders from across the country.

The district’s chief financial officer, Jan Maez, will fill Lyon’s seat.