With winter break a few weeks away for many Santa Monica students and teachers, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District will meet this Thursday for its final board meeting in the month of December.

This week’s meeting will be the first gathering of SMMUSD’s board of education since Superintendent Ben Drati detailed the district’s budget situation in a letter addressed to the community, and district leaders are wasting no time addressing the situation as they are expected to adopt a resolution to identify the amount of budget reduction needed in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 fiscal years.

Budget items

“In a letter dated September 13, 2019, from Los Angeles County Office of Education, our district is being required to reduce spending to retain fiscal solvency,” the agenda states, adding: “Based on current projections, our district will need to reduce spending by a minimum of $3 million in 2020-2021 and $6 million in 2021-22 to meet its financial obligations, while also maintaining a minimum 3% reserve for economic uncertainties for the current fiscal year and the subsequent fiscal years.”

With the adoption of Resolution No. 19-13, the district would begin to identify possible budget reductions for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 fiscal years, according to the resolution’s text. SMMUSD would also be required to formulate a list of the prospective budget cuts that will be included in the 2019-20 second interim report.

Staff anticipates that discussion on the item will only require a total of five minutes since many of the budgetary questions will be covered in the discussion on the approval of the First Interim Report, which is set to occur before the resolution is voted on.

“While these actions must be taken to maintain the fiscal stability of the district,” the resolution reads. “The Board of Education will continue to make every effort to sustain a high-quality education program for our students.”

Board Elections

Thursday’s meeting will also serve as the district’s annual organizational meeting, so it’s recommended that attending board members elect a president and vice president of the Board of Education of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, the agenda states. “It is also recommended that Dr. Ben Drati, Superintendent, be designated as the Secretary of the Board of Education for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.”

Jon Kean and Dr. Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein currently serve as the board’s respective vice president and president, and both are expected to be recognized during the beginning of Thursday’s meeting for their efforts this past year.

Other Notable Items:

Interdistrict Attendance: A Major Discussion item on the agenda will allow the Board of Education an opportunity to discuss interdistrict attendance and the various categories under which families can apply for an interdistrict permit to attend SMMUSD.

Student Performance: Staff will review data related to cohort graduation rates, College and Career Readiness benchmarks, suspension and expulsion rates, as well as the Early Development Instrument results.

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