Have you heard the news? Citing irreconcilable differences, Malibu is seeking a divorce from Santa Monica.

After over 100 years of providing for the joint public education of the children in both cities through the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD), Malibu has filed a petition to form its own school district with the Los Angeles County committee which reviews such requests.

And those differences do appear irreconcilable, which is why the SMMUSD board supports a separation as long as the district’s shared resources are divided fairly and equitably.

However, the current Malibu proposal, which will be considered April 17th, skews unjustly in favor of a Malibu district. If implemented it would require immediate teacher layoffs and cuts to services and programs in the new Santa Monica school system. And within five years Malibu would be spending $20,000 more per pupil annually than Santa Monica.

Moreover, the overwhelming majority of low-income students enrolled at SMMUSD attend schools in Santa Monica and would thus be impacted by the budget cuts to a new Santa Monica district. At a time when the COVID pandemic has profoundly exacerbated the economic and class inequities in our society, does a plan to cut the school funding for these kids sound like social justice?

I urge Santa Monica residents to sign up to share these concerns with the County committee at http://bit.ly./OpposePetition.

Malibu and Santa Monica can negotiate a divorce settlement which is equitable to both cities, but the current Malibu proposal is one-sided and unequal.

Ted Winterer is a former Mayor and current Santa Monica resident.