The Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District will stir up a stronger plastic ban solution, briefly delaying their districtwide ban to follow the City of Santa Monica’s lead.

At the August 16 board meeting, two notable items were removed from the agenda and scheduled to a later date, September 6: the establishment of Spanish-speaking parent group PEMA at Samohi, and the adoption of a resolution that would approve a districtwide ban on plastic straws and plastic beverage stirrers.

While no reason was given for the PEMA tabling, staff said they held off on the plastic straw ban in order to have the most effective resolution possible.

Dr. Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein, president of the school board, indicated that staff wanted to wait until they had “a determination” on the sustainability plan the city drafted in banning plastics.

Vice President of the board Jon Kean echoed Tahvildaran-Jesswein’s statement, saying the city’s plastic ban plan is “far more researched, detailed, and thorough” than the district’s current resolution.

“We have their plan, so we should be able to take a look at this now and bring [an updated version of the district’s plan] back quickly,” boardmember Ralph Mechur said. A district spokesperson added via email that the deeper look at the city’s plan would “better inform” the district in regards to adding potential materials to SMMUSD’s proposed straw and stirrer ban.

Additional items discussed included an update from Santa Monica’s Education Foundation, who raises money for arts, STEM and additional programs in the district. They’ve raised $339,879 for the school year (July 1 – August 15) thus far.

The Santa Monica Malibu Classroom Teachers Association also had an update to share, mainly their excitement for the school year.

“We’re revving up to start the new year, everyone is working very hard at every level in the district,” Sarah Braff, president of SMMCTA said. “From the very top to the very bottom, everyone is cooking on all 8 cylinders, maybe even 12.”

She applauded Dr.Drati’s three-pronged approach to education and more in the district, an approach which includes creating a culture of shared accountability, teaching cross-cultural/socio-economic skills and engaging in constant self-reflection around the issue of equity.

Braff added that social justice and restorative justice (provides alternatives to punitive actions through methods such as discussion circles) aspects of the approach are “all things needed to be done to make change,” and acknowledged that to further change in the district, there will be “difficult discussions” but says the district is “on the right path.”

Lastly, Dr.Drati gave a Superintendent’s update, summarizing summer efforts to improve the district. He cited employee training and perhaps most important to the public, construction.

“Some of you may have passed by our schools, a lot of work has gone on. It may seem, ‘Wow how can we be ready when school starts,’ with some of those campuses, but just realize it was like that last year. They’ll get it done. Schools will be open and students will be ready to go.”

 

angel@smdp.com

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