On the agenda at this week’s School Board meeting are several items that have been postponed from previous weeks including a public hearing on the Will Rogers Learning Community Expansion Project, a presentation on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the district as well as the emergency authorization of HVAC repair work. 

Emergency Air Conditioning Work

This year’s September heatwave put Santa Monica school’s air conditioning systems to the test and proved SMMUSD’s current cooling infrastructure is unprepared for the extreme heat climate change continues to intensify, prompting the District to put the authorization of emergency heating and air conditioning work on this week’s School Board meeting agenda.

From Sept 1 to 12 this year, outdoor temperatures in Santa Monica consistently hovered above 80 degrees and peaked to the high 90s. During this time, cooling systems at multiple SMMUSD schools failed, resulting in disruptions to the school day as classroom and office temperatures were too high to facilitate normal activity.

According to the District, the number of “urgent HVAC service calls” received by SMMUSD maintenance staff exceeded their capacity and led them to bring in outside contractors from Pardress Air to assist with the situation. Now, with temperatures on the decline, District staff are recommending the board approve a contract with Pardress Air to provide emergency HVAC maintenance services in anticipation of future heat. 

The work is expected not to exceed $350,000 and District staff anticipate it to be completed before students return to school following winter break.

Will Rogers Learning Community Expansion

Community members will have a chance to weigh in on the proposed expansion of Will Rogers Learning Community, with a public hearing about the matter on the agenda. The project is one of a long list of campus improvement plans in the District, many of which have been delayed due to COVID-19.    

The project in question would include the construction of a school learning farm, upgrading an existing parking lot from gravel to asphalt and the potential construction of a school cafe or kitchen. This is part of a longer term plan to expand the Will Rogers campus to add more classrooms and outdoor learning spaces.

In addition to the public hearing, the board will also be asked to adopt two resolutions which certify that the Will Rogers Learning community project is compliant with state requirement and exempt it from requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act due to the scale of the project which would only add to the school’s land use by 0.55 acres and increase student capacity by less than 25%. 

Update on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Staff will present the District’s progress over the last year and a half towards meeting the needs of students who have been marginalized and helping staff better understand conscious and unconscious biases as well as racism in the education system. The presentation will include specifics about new teacher training which requires new hires to go through an on-boarding process with a focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. 

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. and those wishing to comment must submit an online form or a request to speak card in person. The form and full agenda can be found on the SMMUSD website: https://simbli.eboardsolutions.com/SB_Meetings/ViewMeeting.aspx

grace@smdp.com

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