Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District offices (File photo)

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District provided an update this week on its various construction projects that were made possible by previously approved bond measures.

“As planning for Fall 2020 instruction and future improvements to our schools continues, I want to report on the significant progress we have made in fulfilling the promise made to voters who overwhelmingly approved two separate bond measures in 2019,” Superintendent Ben Drati said this week, while he shared why the district is unable to use the bond funding to prevent cuts to staff and programs.

“I encourage you to read these updates to learn how we are putting bond funds to work to improve our schools and support SMMUSD students,” Drati added.

He said interested residents can visit the district’s new Facility Improvement Project website at www.smmusd.org/FIP to learn more about project updates, environmental reports, SMMUSD’s Sustainability Plan and other facility and bond information.

Most of SMMUSD’s schools were built more than 60 years ago, according to the Summer Report 2020, but district leaders said they hope to complete the modernization of all Santa Monica campuses over the next two years to ensure a clean and safe learning environment for all students.

Samohi Discovery Building

Commuters traveling on the 10-freeway into downtown regularly see the work progressing on Santa Monica High School’s Discovery building, which is on schedule to open prior to the 2021 Fall semester, according to the recently released report.

If all goes as planned, the Discovery Building update would bring 38 new classrooms, common areas, seminar rooms, multi-purpose spaces and an outdoor classroom for science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) classes to Samohi in an effort to support 21st-century instruction.

“The building will also include an upgraded pool to meet today’s health and safety standards,” which is good news for Vikings who have had to previously swim in the school’s original 50-year-old pool. The school shutdown has also allowed crews to accelerate the work in the science quad and peace and justice circle and make accessibility improvements to the campus.

John Adams Middle School Performing Arts Center

The John Adams Middle School Performing Arts Center is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2021, and officials hope the 750-seat theater and rehearsal space will prove excellent for the school’s many music classes.

“The original JAMS auditorium, built in 1934, suffered earthquake damage and has been closed since 2014, leaving one of the district’s two Santa Monica middle schools with no indoor space for schoolwide assemblies,” the report states. “That will change soon thanks to voter support for local school bonds and a strong partnership between the district and Santa Monica College, whose main campus is just across the street.”

Community Priorities

Residents can find a more detailed report on current and planned Santa Monica school facility improvements at the website bit.ly/3eOppqZ.

“All school campus plans are developed with extensive parent, student and staff involvement,” according to the Summer Report, and district stakeholders should watch for future community meetings to discuss campus projects.

brennon@smdp.com