The future of Santa Monica and Malibu’s education begins to take shape this week as the SMMUSD school board will hold a special meeting Wednesday, Aug. 29 to discuss educational specifications that will inform how new spaces are designed and built and how they’ll support 21st-century learning throughout the district.

The meeting at Santa Monica’s SMMUSD offices will shed light on what direction the district will go educationally in their new 21st-century learning venture and how buildings, both existing and new, will complement this kind of learning in the district.

The district says they’d like to get all buildings modernized and able to support this learning as well as accommodate technology and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) classes.

21st-century learning refers to an alternate approach to education that the district will soon take. This includes collaborative teaching methods such as Inquiry-Based Learning and constructing an environment that could foster that type of learning.

This type of education would eschew the traditional model of teaching– sitting in a row of chairs, looking at a teacher. Instead, a proposed method would look something like several teachers across different disciplines collaborating together in one class to engage students. Instead of memorizing information, students become active participants experientially.

“It feels like we’re taking a big step, but in 20 years, this is going to be what everyone does, how people learn,” Board member Craig Foster said at a previous board meeting.

To create this learning environment, the district has already begun renovations to modernize buildings throughout the district, some of which being more than 70 years old. Restoration efforts have included replacing old doors and windows, removing PCBs, installing new AC systems, reconstructing entire buildings, installing new flooring, and reconstructing some entire buildings.

Measure ES, passed in 2012, paid for many renovations and modernization. To further these efforts, the district will place a new bond on the November ballot seeking potentially up to $485 million for repairs and upgrades.

The meeting is open to the public and will take place in the district office boardroom, 1651 16th St. at 5:30 p.m.

angel@smdp.com

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