Jen Smith will join the SMMUSD Board after more than a decade of volunteer work. Courtesy photo.

Jen Smith has been working behind the scenes for our schools for 12 years and now this PTA veteran is stepping into the public light to tackle the most pressing issues facing our District.

Her number one priority is dealing with Covid-19. Smith seeks to ensure the District moves forward with the highest quality educational program possible while also protecting the health of its students and employees.

Beyond this she wants to double down on fiscal responsibility and focus on closing the achievement gap. Smith has served as PTA Council President, Lincoln PTA President, and Roosevelt PTA President and has worked on successful parcel tax and funding measures for the District.

“I would really like to put in place something that mitigates the issue of funding for local schools by figuring out long term solutions for financial security,” said Smith. “I don’t want to keep kicking the can down the road, I want the road to always be paved.”

Equal access to educational opportunities is another key issue for Smith. While serving as PTA Legislative Representative she traveled to Sacramento and learned about how the greater California public school system works.

During this trip Smith met other PTA representatives who are also from wealthy school districts but want to ensure the education system is designed for students of all economic backgrounds.

“We have to keep working towards making sure that our local, county, and state government is always considering all the children and that doesn’t always happen,” said Smith. “That’s what really sparked my passion, I’m not an educator or administrator, so that’s really where I found the passion and interest that pushes me along towards a goal.”

At a local level, Smith believes that part of this requires finding the sometimes hidden ways students have unequal access to educational opportunities and creating concrete solutions to increase equity. Additionally, she seeks to help administrators and teachers recognize the unique needs of their students and have the toolkit necessary to meet these diverse needs.

Smith moved to Santa Monica from New Jersey in 1996 and immediately fell in love with the local and school communities.

“I remember when my kids started elementary school meeting people who grew up here, had family here and were now sending their kids to the elementary schools that they had attended,” said Smith. “I was just enamored by the feeling of community and home and family that I felt here.”

In addition to her PTA presidencies, Smith has served as Historian, Parliamentarian, Santa Monica Education Foundation Liaison and Preschool Liaison to SMMPTA. Smith is currently serving on the Superintendent’s Budget Advisory Committee, the Facilities District Advisory Committee, the Community for Excellent Public Schools steering committee, the board of the Samohi PTSA, and as co-chair of Samohi Grad Nite.

In her free time she loves reading, running, and working on the New York Times crossword over the phone with her mother. She is excited to roll up her sleeves and dive into the work of serving the District.