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School District Funding Measure Loses  

By Lookout Staff

May 29, 2010 --After the remaining ballots were counted on Friday afternoon, Measure A was approximately 500 Yes votes short of the two-thirds support needed for passage. The unofficial results after all ballots were counted for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) parcel tax election show 13,671 votes (64.25 percent) in favor and 7,607 votes in opposition.

A $198-per-parcel tax, Measure A would have generated $5.7 million for the cash-strapped district, which has a structural deficit due to reduced funding from Sacramento, its largest financial contributor. The Board of Education met Wednesday and Thursday to slash its proposed 2010-11 spending plan by $7.1 million. A previous proposal had reductions at $8.9 million, but the SMMUSD will defer some maintenance projects to allow for fewer cuts. The board will vote on a final budget June 18.

The cuts include:

  • Reduction in conference and travel expenditures ($40,000)
  • Elimination of seven middle and high school counselor positions ($630,000)
  • Reduction of summer school ($100,000)
  • Reduction of one security officer at Santa Monica High School ($50,000)
  • Elimination of funding for reading specialists ($240,000)
  • Reduction of four student outreach specialists at Santa Monica High School ($260,000)
  • Reduction of two nurses district-wide. ($160,000)
  • Reduction of all elementary school library coordinators, one certificated librarian position and three library assistants ($355,000)
  • Postponement of 2011-12 textbook adoption ($250,000)
  • Reduction in energy/utility expenses ($100,000)
  • Reduction of four elementary music teaching positions ($320,000)

  • District office reductions, including the elimination of the director of maintenance and operations, the coordinator of student support, a custodian, a utility worker and a painter, as well as other reductions ($400,000)
  • Reduction in outside contracts ($200,000)
  • Elimination of secondary schools classroom teacher positions that will increase class size from 33:1 to 35:1, except at John Adams Middle School (which is a Title I school), where the increase will be from 31:1 to 33:1. ($1,600,000)
  • Elimination of elementary school classroom teacher positions that will increase non-Title I school class sizes for K-3 from 23:1 to 27:1; class sizes for grades 4 and 5 at those schools will remain at 30:1; Title-1 schools will increase to 27:1 for K-5 from 23:1 (K-3) and 25:1 (4-5) ($1,680,000)
  • Reduction in contribution to Child Development Services ($75,000)
  • Elimination of two advisor positions at Santa Monica High School ($165,000)

“This is the worst I have ever seen it,” said Board of Education member Oscar de la Torre, who was on the board when the district had to make severe cuts following the last failure of a parcel tax measure in 2002. “I’ve never seen it this bad. And the cuts are damaging to what we expect for our public education system.”

District advocates are looking toward fundraising to bring in more money to the SMMUSD, with the initial focus on restoring elementary school classroom teachers. Those interested in making donations should contact the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation at or by calling 310.396.4557.

There is a board meeting scheduled for Thursday at 5:30 p.m. The agenda includes an update from the Education Foundation and a joint discussion with the Financial Oversight Committee.


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