Courtesy photo

As Malibu continues to advocate district autonomy, the possible school district to the west has some schools looking for autonomy, too.

In a proposed school site shakeup dubbed the Malibu Schools Alignment Project, Malibu would consolidate Juan Cabrillo and Point Dume Elementary Schools into one campus as well as create a separate middle school.

The alignment will also separate Malibu Middle School from Malibu High School, placing the middle school on the soon to be vacant Juan Cabrillo campus. This will give MMS more operating freedom as well as free up space for the reimagined MHS.

According to a staff report and a presentation to be shown Nov. 1, superintendent Dr. Ben Drati and Malibu community members support moving forward with the alignment project this year with operations at the sites to begin at the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

District staff believes combining Juan Cabrillo and Point Dume into one campus would be beneficial for many reasons, such as better serving the schools for inquiry and project-based learning and increasing engagement among teachers and students while reducing expenditures of running two small schools (both schools operate with around 200 students).

A staff report says that over time, hopes are that the new combined elementary school campus and Malibu’s other elementary school, Webster, will balance their enrollments.

Additionally, hopes are that the alignment will give Malibu’s schools more autonomy and identity as well as result in savings due to combining services and staff.

In the alignment, middle school students (Grades 6-8) from MMS would be moved into Juan Cabrillo while elementary students (Grades K-5) from Juan Cabrillo would be moved to Point Dume. The move would work in two phases, one temporary and one permanent.

The temporary phase would install ten portable rooms (7 Classrooms [24′ x 40′], 1 Kindergarten [36’ x 40’], 1 Administration [36′ x 40′], and 1 Restroom [12′ x 40′]) to the existing Point Dume Elementary School grounds for operations at the start of the 2019-20 school year.

The permanent phase would replace the portables with two permanent buildings (depending on funding), a two-story Classroom Building and a single-story Administration Building.

Attendance boundaries for schools in Malibu would change due to the consolidation: Point Dume’s boundaries would need to be expanded to include all of Juan Cabrillo’s existing attendance boundaries. Additionally, Juan Cabrillo’s boundaries would be changed to the entirety of Malibu for middle school students.

The district also surveyed the environmental impact of the project, choosing urban planning team PlaceWorks to perform an environmental review before any work begins. PlaceWorks found that the alignment project could cause significant environmental impacts which could be decreased significantly with certain mitigation measures. In a public hearing to discuss mitigation measures and the alignment, no comments were received in regards to the environmental impacts or mitigation measures.

Public opinion was overwhelmingly positive for the alignment and Malibu High reimagining at a May 3 board meeting. Many Malibu public speakers and residents praised superintendent Dr. Drati and board member Craig Foster. One resident added, “[Malibu] haven’t felt listened to like this since Neil Schmidt.”

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