The local Board of Education will consider approving the list of three people chosen by Superintendent Sandra Lyon to represent the Santa Monica-Malibu school district in talks with Malibu advocates about issues related to possible separation.
Lyon nominated Tom Larmore, Debbie Mulvaney and Paul Silvern to participate in negotiations regarding a potential split of the district, which the school board outlined last month. The board is expected to ratify Lyon’s choices at its board meeting Thursday night at SMMUSD headquarters.
Larmore, Mulvaney and Silvern are all members of the district’s Financial Oversight Committee, which has been tasked in recent months with analyzing the fiscal implications of dividing the existing school district.
Lyon tapped Larmore, Mulvaney and Silvern “due to their in-depth knowledge of the district’s and Financial Oversight Committee’s issues and concerns associated with a potential” creation of a separate Malibu district, according to an SMMUSD report.
Malibu City Manager Jim Thorsen has selected Laura Rosenthal, Kevin Shenkman and Manel Sweetmore to represent Malibu in the negotiations.
In July, the finance committee reported to the school board that there were no fiscal deal-breakers to separation. But after analyzing new data that reflected changes in state aid, the committee concluded in November that a split was not financially viable. The school board then approved separation negotiations to see if the budgetary issues could be resolved.
Negotiations will take place over a 60-day period with an option for a 30-day extension pending school board approval. The board will hear updates on the talks at least monthly.
Agreements born of the talks will require approval by the negotiating teams, the school board and Malibu City Council, and possible separation would still likely take several years to execute.
The upcoming talks come at a pivotal juncture for the district, which is in the process of allocating millions of dollars in bond money for facility and technology upgrades at SMMUSD sites while facing environmental concerns in Malibu, adjusting to a recently implemented centralized fundraising system and working to curb academic achievement gaps.
Larmore, a recent school board candidate and longtime Santa Monica resident who previously served on the city Planning Commission, has been involved in numerous civic and nonprofit groups.
In November, Larmore said that he’s generally backed the concept of separation but added that the new data forced him to reconsider.
“I’ve said many times that if there were no adverse consequences … it was a great thing to do, and I was for it,” he said. “When we realized the current situation it was, frankly, a disappointment to me.”
Mulvaney, who runs an accounting firm, helps businesses with bookkeeping and other organizational matters. She is a former president of Santa Monica High School’s Parent Teacher Student Association.
“With what we know about district finances, sound analysis clearly demonstrates that unification does not make financially prudent sense at this time,” Mulvaney said in November.
Silvern, a former Santa Monica planning director, is a longtime economic development and land use consultant. A partner with HR&A Advisors, he has worked with city officials and community members on exploring options for the Civic Auditorium site.