Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s (SMMUSD) Board of Education will be discussing changes to board policy on multiple subjects during Thursday’s regularly-scheduled meeting.

During the meeting, the board will consider an adoption of policy regarding environmental education, which is in alignment with the previously board-approved districtwide sustainability plan. The policy focuses on promoting environmental literacy among students, teachers and staff, integrating it further into existing curriculum. Creating environmentally or climate-literate persons is defined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as understanding “the essential principles of Earth’s climate system, [knowing] how to assess scientifically credible climate information, [communicating] about climate change in a meaningful way, and can make informed and responsible decisions regarding actions that may affect climate.”

Previously, the board approved the districtwide sustainability plan in March 2019, which provided a roadmap for integrating sustainability into student learning, organized into focus areas such as climate, water, transportation and solid waste. The new board policy will continue that work by promoting climate education lessons, providing “easy and equitable access” to climate education materials, and building conditions for student and staff learning.

In a separate item also related to climate literacy, the board will read a resolution on Thursday declaring climate change as “one of the most pressing crises of our time,” setting forth a commitment “to develop and support existing curricula and practices to establish a minimum standard of climate literacy for its students.” The resolution was developed by students from Santa Monica High School’s Team Marine, and was previously presented to SMMUSD principals. Team Marine students were instrumental in the adoption of the districtwide sustainability plan, and the new resolution “strongly encourages” teachers “to commit to at least one lesson per semester on a climate topic,” examining the climate crisis through a “social, economic, political, and/or scientific lens.”

Another consideration by the board Thursday will be the potential adoption of policy surrounding physical education and activity. During a recent federal program monitoring review, it was determined that SMMUSD did not have a policy in this matter, with staff recommending the adoption of the California School Boards Association (CSBA) sample policy and regulation.

The policy “recognizes the positive benefits of physical activity on student health, well-being, and academic achievement” and lists examples of physical activity throughout the district, specifically for grades 9-12. For those grade classes, the policy suggests that “the overall course of study” should include “the mechanics of body movement,” as well as activities like aquatics, gymnastics and tumbling, individual and dual sports, rhythm and dance, along with team sports. For physical fitness testing the policy designates that the test designated by the State Board of Education, FITNESSGRAM, shall be administered to students in grades 5, 7 and 9.

Finally, revisions to board policy related to the district’s complaint systems will be broached, including complaints concerning district employees, instructional materials, uniform complaint procedures and Williams uniform complaint procedures. Proposed updates clarify and expand upon the complaint and response processes, and bring the district into alignment with CSBA policy.

Thomas Leffler has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism from Penn State University and has been in the industry since 2015. Prior to working at SMDP, he was a writer for AccuWeather and managed...