Next school year, English learners in local schools may get special help in math, the school district could hire two mental health professionals and more elementary schoolers might be able to take dance classes.
Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s advisory committees will present their annual reports to the Board of Education at its Thursday meeting. The reports include recommendations for changes to be implemented in the coming school year. Here are the proposed changes the school board will discuss.
Visual and Performing Arts District Advisory Committee
The committee is advocating for high school graduation requirements to include one year of visual and performing arts in addition to one year of foreign language.
The committee is recommending expanding dance classes to more grade levels at elementary schools and add district-funded dance classes at Lincoln, Malibu and SMASH Middle Schools, as well as Malibu High School.
It also wants to add district-funded theatre classes during the school day at John Adams, Lincoln and SMASH Middle Schools.
The committee is asking the district to explore reinstating the technical theater class at Santa Monica High School and fund art classes at SMASH Middle School.
It’s also looking to provide more summer school, morning and evening arts classes to meet demand from students with packed daytime schedules.
Special Education District Advisory Committee
The committee will develop a plan to address its finding that the district’s special education program is increasingly out-of-sync with the needs of students. For example, the program should take stock of its programs for higher functioning autistic, deaf and dyslexic students. It also needs to improve sex education for special education students, the committee said.
The committee is seeking more consistency on how technology is used in the classroom and how both special and general education teachers follow individualized education plans (IEPs). General education teachers do not always review IEPs, the committee found, and not all teachers use the technology they have been trained to use, such as Google Classroom.
It recommends that families be able to access IEP reports and instructional materials online and is asking the district train all teachers and principals on IEP compliance and disability awareness.
The committee also wants to provide training for parents on how to support their children’s learning and develop a plan for better communication with parents that would include an online hub for information about meetings and events.
Health and Safety District Advisory Committee
The committee will help develop the district’s mental health master plan, making recommendations on how to screen and treat anxiety, depression, and drug and alcohol use. It may recommend hiring two licensed mental health care professionals, professional development for teachers regarding social and emotional wellbeing, and engaging more social work interns.
It will also focus on expanding and improving the restorative justice program and identifying metrics to measure the progress of the district’s Wellness Policy, which was most recently revised last February.
District English Learners Advisory Committee
The committee is recommending the board fund English classes for parents in Malibu in addition to existing classes in Santa Monica and better support English learners in math.
It also recommends distributing surveys when families register for English programs and providing reclassification workshops for parents of English learners.
Intercultural Equity & Excellence District Advisory Committee
In the coming school year, the committee plans to help Superintendent Ben Drati and staff respond to racialized incidents, such as a banner that appeared at Santa Monica High School last September featuring racial imagery from Childish Gambino’s “This is America” music video. The committee discussed the banner with Drati, focusing on how the community perceived it in different ways.
The committee will take inventory of all formal and informal parent groups, gathering information on membership and function. It will then compile a report for Drati to recommend areas for growth. The committee will also gather feedback for initiatives like project-based learning, restorative justice and social justice learning standards.
Childcare and Development District Advisory Committee
In light of the board’s December decision to forgo Head Start and create its own model of early education at a cost of $5 million over five years, the committee plans to review the district’s transition to universal preschool and offer suggestions on how to smoothly transition students from preschool to Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten.