The Santa Monica Malibu School District unanimously agreed to begin the process to form dual School Facilities Improvement Districts (SFID). The formation of SFIDs for both Santa Monica and Malibu would allow schools within both communities to have more self-sufficiency in many areas such as facility planning and funding.

Carey Upton, Chief Operations Officer for the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District, led the presentation describing why the district felt the need for two separate SFIDs.

Upton said that with rising bids and prices for modernization efforts with projects such as construction and PCB abatement, the district considered getting a bond.

“Challenges in previous bonds was between the relationships between the Santa Monica and Malibu communities,” Upton said.

Questions community members asked about a potential for dual SFIDs included tax levels and how bonds would work with the imminent split of the soon-to-be two districts.

A staff member with Upton told the Board that money which comes from a bond in a particular SFID could only be used in that SFID; all Malibu bonds spent in and funded by Malibu, all Santa Monica bonds spent in and funded by Santa Monica.

“Other than that, they operate like all of our other bonds. Not a lot to look into,” the staff member said.

The process to create the dual SFIDs is a lengthy one. To create the two SFIDs, the district must ask the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (LACBOS) with a resolution requesting that LACBOS allow the district to create the two SFIDs.

“We’ll be working with a bond attorney and city staff to set this up, work this out,” Upton said.

There would then be a vote to pass the resolution. Typically, counties have a “you make the request and it happens” standing order, but, “LA county likes to listen to and vote on each one,” according to Upton.

LACBOS would then hear the resolution “end of the month, beginning of next, somewhere around May 1st,” with district staff coming back to the board May 3rd to pass a resolution of intent– intent to create an SFID in Malibu.

On May 17, staff would come back to the Board to ask to create a resolution of intent for Santa Monica.

The two resolutions are split up by design, one meeting in Malibu, one in Santa Monica, to give both communities time to work on their respective resolutions.

“Once we start this process, we’ll be on two different parallel paths. We want to make sure we’re including voters on both sides,” Upton said.

On June 12, the district asks for a resolution of formation to finally form the SFIDs.

On July 19, “that would be the moment you call for elections,” Upton said. The formation of SFIDs would go on the ballot November 6.

Creation of the SFIDs doesn’t “lock you in” to using the SFIDs, Upton said, until July 19 when it’s voted to be put on the ballot.

“We feel there’s a lot more discussion with our communities to talk about this, but to get in line to start all of this up, that’s why we’re starting with this before we’ve even done a lot of feasibility, to start us down the road to get this on the ballot.”

Superintendent Dr. Drati has formed a feasibility committee, having had one meeting already with another to have before a May 3 board meeting. Upton said staff has begun polling.

“When we meet with you (the Board) May 3rd, we’ll also discuss what that polling is and get direction to move forward towards a bond. There are lots of different steps along the way. Of course, we need our community with us, we need to work even more to communicate what’s working and great with previous bonds, what we’re in the process of doing, and establish that we have substantial need.”

The Board unanimously passed the resolution.