BIOGRAPHY

Name: Ann Maggio Thanawalla

Age: 53

Occupation: Mom/Retired Advertising Director

Neighborhood of residence: Wilmont

Own/Rent: The bank owns my condo

Marital status: Married

Kids: yes, a 5th grader

Political affiliation: Democrat

Schooling (High School / College): Kent State University, Bowling Green State University, Fashion Institute of Technology

Highest degree attained: Bachelor of Arts Degree

SURVEY (UP TO 50 WORDS PER QUESTION)

With the district moving toward more autonomy for Malibu and possibly eventual separation, how does a two-city system benefit all students currently in the district? 

A two-city system could enhance communications between the board the administration and our families. Local process, as mandated by the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) requires parental engagement.   Parental access, in terms of distance and time, may lead to enhanced participation, resulting in better outcomes for all students.

What role, if any, does the Board have in securing work-force housing for teachers in the district?

Housing is not a function of the School Board, although in order to attract experienced, state certificated and credentialed teachers the District might wish to consider crafting and fielding a detailed teacher survey to determine need.

You’re in a kayak on the ocean when you see a Viking Longship approaching clearly on a raiding mission. At the same time, you see a shark fin in the water. What do you do? 

I would first assess my surroundings to determine my role in this scenario. Who am I? Where am I in relationship to shore? What are my values? How does my presence relate to the given information and my assessment of what to do next?

What is being done at all school sites to address traffic caused by parent drop-off and provide necessary parking for students/faculty?

Traffic around schools is a recurring complaint, particularly among adjacent Santa Monica neighbors. Very recently, the District completed a new parking lot and drop off area for one of our Malibu elementary school to accommodate parking needs. The Samohi Master Plan also includes a plan to build adequate subterranean parking that might also serve as overflow parking for the Civic Center.

Which three movies best represent the high school experience?

Big Voice

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Fast Times at Ridgemont High

What kind of discipline should be used within the district and is the district doing enough to protect students on campus?

We have board policies, recently adopted Social Justice Standards and a Restorative Justice Program that address student discipline. We also give younger students the language and tools they need to help them with bullying and we employ a cross-district anti-bullying program. Are we doing enough? Shouldn’t we assess what our students and teachers say?

Are you satisfied with the results of recent construction work on SMMUSD campuses and what are the most pressing needs for the rest of the district?

Generally, yes, although parents concerns linger regarding the possible inadequate early testing for hazardous materials prior to work on some campuses. Many of our schools lack basic amenities such as air conditioning, long overdue renovations and upgrades of bathrooms, cafeterias and classrooms.

What item of clothing from high school do you still wear today?

Sorry, I’m not rockin’ a single garment from that era, however there’s always a chance a piece or two might materialize in the gaming world as a re-purposed Fortnite skin.

Oh, wait! Does a sheet count? “Toga! Toga! Toga!” Nope, none of those either, just kidding.

What role should parent and volunteer groups play in determining curriculum or policy within the district?

The District has established parent/community volunteer groups known as advisory committees. As student needs are more granularly defined, the District might expand committee charges to include broad based teacher input. External groups should bring their work to parent/teacher committees prior to seeking changes in policy or curriculum.

¿Como está respondiendo el distrito escolar a las necesidades de los alumnos que están aprendiendo inglés? 

The District has hired a new Parent Engagement Coordinator for our English as a Second Language (ESL) community. The goal of the coordinator is to connect with all families whose students have been identified as ESL and to provide quality assistance and guidance to ensure all families are sufficiently and successfully aware of the full breadth of District’s services and programs available to their children.

SMMUSD is a rich district but there’s yet another school bond on the ballot. Voters have already approved several school funding measures in recent years and the District gets a cash infusion from City Hall. Why can’t SMMUSD live within its means?

The District is always evolving and is interested in growth. Fiscal strength is a key to growth. Our schools still need lots of work. Bathrooms require major remodeling. In order to serve nutritious, freshly prepared, hot school lunches we need cafeteria renovations to bring us into the 21st century. We must remove crumbling portable classrooms, rebuild them as second stories classrooms and restore those structural footprints to their original open spaces uses. We must provide our kids with comfortable uncrowded spaces for lunch, play and other participatory activities.

Cash infusions from Santa Monica City Hall are not without expense to the District budget. When voters approved the two more recent transaction and use advisory measures, Measure YY in 2010 and Measure GS(H) in 2016, both increased our sales tax and advised the city that the money should benefit our public schools. After the votes, the community was told this money could not be released unless the District gave the City of Santa Monica something in return. The gifts came in the form of Joint Use Agreements. These deals gave the City use of District facilities and Los Amigos Park while requiring the District to absorbs some costs. Janitorial services, maintenance and general wear and tear caused by City lease/use permits to non profit and for profits are absorbed by the District. Additionally, the City retains the fees collected through these deals.

We must hold the District accountable for spending money wisely as we promote public education. Our Transitional Kindergarten through grade twelve student needs must be prioritized over tuition based and fee based programs or Joint Use agreements that are not a function of our public education system. We have a long list of projects identified by the District that can’t be covered by the money attached to these two bonds, Measure M (Malibu for $195 million) and Measure SMS (Santa Monica for $485 million). In asking for this money, the District should be responsible for broad inclusive outreach to city tax payers so that community consensus on spending priorities is established early on. Additionally any substantial changes or incremental changes that might appear to have the effect of a substantial change in priority spending should require the same community style outreach. Moving forward, the District should insist on best practices that include a project list(s) attached to bonds and, if necessary, set aside a fractional percentage for contingency spending.

We have been asking Candidates about the achievement gap for 10 years. Why has this remained a known problem for so long and what measurable progress is being made?

The District has recognized this problem, made attempts over the years to address it, and yet it persists. Newly implemented Social Justice Standards and Ethnic Studies courses at the High School level may have impact but are coming late in the process. Empowering students with the abilities to build student unions is one option. Providing exit polls and/or interviews for new programs and/or upon year end or graduation might teach us what other integral components are necessary to achieve better outcomes.

Further, in addition to looking at test scores, we might seek feedback from exiting 5th graders to find out what they think motivates them and what holds them back. One obvious opportunity is returning middle school sports to our kids. Motives to be in school vary from one child to the next. Let’s give our adolescent youth more choices of expression, allow them to gain peer recognition and fulfillment in positive and healthy ways and teach them how to transfer accomplishments from one area of success into multiple achievements in other areas.

We must also seek solutions to the root causes of poor performance early on, in TK to 3rd grade. These early years must incorporate engaging students and using mindful teaching methods to address the variety of challenges our young learners encounter. At the core, we must strive for a socially and emotionally available community of peers and educators who cultivate acceptance and equality as primary values. Celebrating and introducing cultures and languages, particularly for those students who might have limited English vocabulary help re-position their status and willingness to learn. These are just some possible means to addressing the achievement gap.

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