On June 13, the Santa Monica – Malibu Board of Education (BOE) held a special meeting to review and reflect on the past school year, with new superintendent Dr. Ben Drati.

All seven SMMUSD Boardmembers and staff were asked to express their thoughts of this past year.

For Boardmember Oscar de la Torre he said, “For its size, SMMUSD is more complex than most school districts.”

He is happy the BOE signed the first Project Labor Agreement, which expanded job training and employment in the trades for the districts alumni and residents.

“The BOE implemented their excellence through equity plan that strives to provide the most potent intervention for struggling students in school district history,” said De la Torre.

Like De la Torre, Boardmember Ralph Mechur is proud of the work the BOE has done this past year.

“We strongly support the passage of Measure GS and GSH that will provide approximately $8,000,000 annually to the district to support, amongst other things, technology, facility maintenance and on going programs,” said Mechur. “This coming year, starting July 1, the district will have to develop a financial plan that maintains our excellence while reducing spending in many areas.”

Boardmember Jon Kean believes the Board has been doing a good job, as he began his service in earlier this year.

“I think that our facilities department has done a terrific job on finishing the BB projects as well as preparing for ES projects throughout the district. The PLA that we completed this winter will benefit our schools and community,” said Kean. “There is a renewed focus on empowering our site principles to create collaborative learning environments were we promote change from the ground up instead of top down.”

However, throughout the year the issue that seems to be front and center is the unification of Malibu.

“The BOE continues to support the work of the MUNC (Malibu Unification Negotiation Committee), studying the possible components of separating into two school districts. This work is continuing and will return to the Board for further discussion in the next few months,” said Mechur.

Kean said, “The Board, thanks to the guidance by the MUNC is now trying to come to a satisfactory equity while still addressing on pressing issues such as a potential unification as well as impending fiscal concerns.”

In the latest board meeting regarding the unification of Malibu, the BOE did not express strong support for or against unification. However, many board members did express a commitment that all students within both districts receive the best education possible.

Another unanimous agreement this past school year was the hiring of Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati.

“Dr. Drati started meeting with Board members, district staff, parents and community groups immediately after taking over as superintendent,” said Mechur. “He has been working non-stop to develop goals and a process that will help us become a district of strong and high performing school communities providing equitable access to educational opportunities.”

“I am glad we hired Superintendent Dr. Drati,” said De la Torre. “In the past six months he has proven that ha has what it takes to bring about the systems changes we expect to ensure all students, especially those most underserved.”

“I am thrilled with superintendent Drati! He is the right combination of passion, expertise, and leadership to finally get us to our goal of excellence for all our students,” said Boardmember Craig Foster. “I look forward to the superintendent and the board putting in place a clear set of goals for 2017 -18 and beyond.”

The Board of Education will be having their final meeting of the school year on June 29.   For more information you can visit http://www.smmusd.org/board/meetings.html .