As the Santa Monica-Malibu school district uses millions of dollars in bond money to upgrade its campuses, it’s probably going to need community input.
That’s where a new facilities panel could come in.
The local Board of Education could soon approve a new committee that would guide the district on projects backed by the $385-million Measure ES, which voters passed three years ago.
The looming creation of a facilities panel comes amid broader discussions within SMMUSD about the role of its advisory committees, some members of which have expressed frustration about a lack of direction, clarity and responsiveness from board and district officials.
The new, broader facilities committee would replace the existing Measure BB advisory group, which has guided district expenditures tied to the $268-million bond that voters approved in 2006.
“The real purpose is to get a committee that’s going to represent the community, to give an outside look,” said Steve Massetti, the district’s recently hired bond program manager. “This is to get real, useful information and recommendations from community members on which projects should be done, which should be put off. … We want to solicit opinion on the impact of these projects on classroom learning.”
Pending board approval, the district could begin accepting applications for the committee by next month and establish the group by February.
The 18-person board would have two subcommittees, one with 11 members focusing on Santa Monica projects and the other with seven members specializing in Malibu upgrades.
Massetti and other officials said they hoped representatives from Santa Monica and Malibu city governments would serve on the committee.
The panel would meet several times a year, advise officials on project priorities and attempt to ensure equity across the district. It would seek input from other stakeholders and regularly report to the board on its progress.
“I would like us to be as clear as possible about what our expectations are for people who are going to serve on this committee before they apply so they know what they’re walking into,” board president Laurie Lieberman said.
Lieberman noted that errors in communication and direction likely contributed to the installation of a flawed sustainable cooling system at Edison Language Academy.
“We’re now living with where that went,” she said.
Massetti would not be a member of the panel, he said, but he would work with its leaders to establish an overarching agenda.
Massetti said the members of the committee would be able to provide architects and other district consultants with insights and information on site details. He added that teachers, house principals, athletics officials and other stakeholders would likely be helpful resources on specific projects.
“The people who are passionate, who care about our schools … they’re able to give us that advice early on when we need it,” Massetti said.
Board member Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein said he was somewhat nervous about creating a new panel as the district hashes out its vision for advisory committees.
“We really are trying to make a transition and trying to make these things more effective,” Lieberman said.