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Santa Monica School Bond Measure Largely Bankrolled by Outside Firms

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October 4, 2018 -- About 80 percent of the money raised to support a record $485 million facilities bond for Santa Monica public schools has come from companies outside the City, according to the latest campaign finance disclosure statements.

As of October 1, outside firms had donated $81,000 of the $99,782 raised by The Committee for Safe & Modern Santa Monica Schools - Yes on SMS, according to the statements filed with the City Clerk.

The funds will be used to upgrade and replace outdated facilities in Santa Monica schools ("Santa Monica-Malibu School Board Votes to Place Record Bonds on the Ballot," July 30, 2018).

Of the 29 contributors, 20 were companies from outside Santa Monica that provide consulting, design, engineering and construction services, in most cases to school districts.

The two largest contributors -- DLR Group, which contributed $7,500, and Massetti Consulting, LLC, which contributed $7,000 -- have received contracts from the School District.

DLR, which is based in Omaha, Nebraska, designed the transformation of Lincoln Middle School's library building to classrooms and science labs, as well as a two-story addition to the school, according to the firm's website.

Massetti Consulting, was hired in 2015 to oversee expenditures funded by Measure ES, a $385 million bond measure approved in 2012, and upgrades funded by Measure BB, a $268 million bond approved in 2006.

The Long Beach firm was paid $420,000 in the first year of a three-year contract. More than 30 firms submitted proposals ("Santa Monica-Malibu School District Bond Program Consultant Comes on Board," October 6, 2015).

Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, Inc. of Minneapolis, an integrated architecture, engineering, and planning company, and Musco Sports Lighting, LLC of Oskaloosa, Iowa, contributed $5,000 and $3,000 respectively.

Musco has installed lighting for athletic fields at Malibu Middle/High School, John Adams Middle School and Santa Monica High School.

Last year, the School Board contracted the firm to install and maintain athletic lighting at District schools.

Two major contributors to Yes on SMS were San Francisco firms.

Boston Properties, owner of Santa Monica Colorado Center, contributed $5,000 to the campaign; DSK LLP an architecture firm that has worked for half a dozen school districts, contributed $4,000.

Gafcon, Inc., a San Diego-based Construction Services firm that counts building school facilities among its specialties, contributed $5,000.

The remaining $18,000 in monetary contributions were made by nine Santa Monica individuals and companies.

The largest local donations -- of $5,000 each -- came from School Board member Laurie Lieberman, her husband Chris Harding's law firm Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozel (HLKK) and Pacific Park, the amusement park on the Santa Monica Pier.

Sullivan-Dituri, a Santa Monica real estate and property management company, gave $1,000.

Making contributions of $500 each were School Board member Jon Kean; education activist Shari Davis, who heads the Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS), and local architect Hank Koning.

Planning Commissioners Shawn Landres and Gerda Newbold contributed $300 and $100 respectively, and School Board member Ralph Mechur contributed $100. Joan Krenik of Los Angeles contributed $250.

City Council candidate Greg Morena made a non-monetary contribution of $980 for shared voter file data.

The Yes on SMS campaign has reported $15,642.66 of expenditures made as of September 22.

There is no ballot argument opposing the measure ("Record Bond Measure for Santa Monica Schools Draws No Opposing Ballot Arguments," September 12, 2018).

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