Two separate facilities use agreements between SMC and the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District were tabled this week due to concerns over contract language and community concern.

At a Thursday, June 6 SMMUSD board of education meeting, the district was presented with approving a facilities agreement between SMC’s school district and SMMUSD’s.

The agreement was two-fold; the Master Use Agreement would see SMC and SMMUSD continue to share facilities — such as Corsair Field and John Adams Middle School’s softball field — for ten years, while the Facilities Use Agreement would see SMC contribute $20 million to a $35 million performance arts center at JAMS, with SMC potentially having 36 days of usage at the performance arts center.

Carey Upton explained the background of the agreement, noting JAMS had seismic damage at its theater. After an investigation, his team discovered that replacing the theater would be more cost-effective than rebuilding the damaged theater. Concurrently, SMC received bond money through Measure R and agreed to partner with SMMUSD on the site.

After Upton spoke, public speaker Nikki Kolhoff expressed dissatisfaction with the district’s vetting process as well as her problems with the contract’s language.

“I know it didn’t come before the Financial Oversight Committee and can confirm it didn’t go before the Facilities Committee. I’m wondering how this jumped to an action item without oversight … I don’t think this anyone has been vetted with proper oversight committees, the community, or anyone else, with respect to the final terms.”

Kolhoff also expressed concern over the 36 days of usage SMC would get, wondering how JAMS would be affected if SMC chose to pick consecutive weekends.

Boardmember Oscar de la Torre shared Kolhoff’s concern, feeling the details of the contract weren’t clear. “Could there be a possibility that they want consecutive weekends and lock in a big chunk of time that we couldn’t use for our students or school?”

Upton answered that from his talks with SMC, the number of days they intended to use was lower than 36 and that a discussion to find all needs had already been met.

Boardmember Laurie Lieberman noted that before each academic school year that blackout dates for the schools are picked and assumed that would be the same. She stressed that SMC is a clear partner — putting up more than half of the cost for the site — but that the contract’s language could be clearer.

Boardmember Ralph Mechur noted that 36 days out of a 180-day school year was a small percentage, but De la Torre wasn’t satisfied.

“Part of the problem is it’s a major action item— this hasn’t been properly vetted with facilities committee or other committees that might be impacted, VAPA or our elementary schools. I’m a big supporter but what I would prefer is we vetted this with all of our stakeholders and we have priority and we bring those concerns to negotiations with SMC.”

De la Torre asked for the item to be brought back before the board, noting his concern of schools within close proximity of the site, saying tabling the item would be a preventative measure.

“We should be able to have a better agreement for our students and school district.”

Boardmember Jon Kean agreed with sentiments shared, saying the item should be postponed due to the intent of the agreement being clear but not the agreement’s wording.

“It’s going to be a very nice facility,” de la Torre began, “A lot of our schools will want to host a bunch of different things there. I just want to make sure that we give priority to our students that use those facilities to have priority, I’m sure the college will understand that.

“I’m also concerned we haven’t had those discussions in terms of the calendar with the other elementary schools within proximity and that we haven’t really vetted this with facilities DAC or VAPA DAC, and it’s important to do that.”

The board came into agreement that the item would be tabled and return to the board once the agreement language is more clarified.

The following discussion, based on sharing facilities, was tabled and asked to return under the same circumstances.

angel@smdp.com

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