By Melissa Caskey / Wednesday, January 23, 2013
A recently released report commissioned by Malibu parents has found that Malibu meets many key requirements necessary to break off from Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, though several questions remain.
The feasibility study, funded by the local group Advocates for Malibu Public Schools (AMPS), gauged whether Malibu meets nine separation criteria laid out in the state’s Education Code. It determined that an independent Malibu school district would garner sufficient enrollment (approximately 1,500 students) and enough property tax and bond revenue to stay financially afloat.
But the report suggested further study to guarantee that Malibu students would still have access to special education programs and that school community members support a Malibu-only district. Other areas requiring additional research include determining how district property would be divided between Santa Monica and Malibu, and whether Malibu would continue to receive parcel taxes from Measure R, which was passed in 2008 by voters in both communities.
The two districts would also have to flesh out a deal to divide up $250 million worth of bond debt, plus the recently passed $385 million Measure ES.
Craig Foster, the president of AMPS and a longtime advocate of separation, characterized the study as a step in the right direction.
“We think that this study is encouraging for the possibility that each city could have its own school district meeting its own needs,” Foster said. “Now we just need to work through the details to make sure that’s true and attractive to all the stakeholders.”
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