By Lookout Staff
June 4, 2009 – The School Board is expected to decide whether to eliminate one of the six houses at Samohi, a proposal that has met with opposition from some parents and raised questions about the responsibilities of the board and superintendent
Supporters of Wendy Wax Gellis, the Principal of the A House slated to be cut, charge that there has been no public process and that Superintendent Tim Cuneo, and not the Board, made the decision to eliminate the house.
Gellis is expected to accept a transfer to Malibu Middle School, where she would serve as assistant principal.
The anticipated move to cut one of the six houses established on the district’s largest campus in 2003-04 would save the cash-strapped district about $700,000, according to staff.
“Staff makes this recommendation knowing very well that this is a critical issue to teachers, parents, and students,” the staff report reads. “Staff also believes that the House system has been very successful at Santa Monica High School, particularly in the area of personalizing education for students.
“It is staff’s intent to continue to support this very successful house system. But with the state budget worsening, and with revenues to the District declining, staff believes this is a necessary change.”
Staff notes that the proposed cut would, in fact, maintain the same ratio of students to teachers achieved in 2003, because enrollment at Samohi has fallen from 3,449 students to 2,891 students, a reduction of 16.1 percent.
Critics of the move say the district has blundered and the Board members are trying to distance themselves by saying the decision falls under the purview of the Superintendent since it is a personnel issue. (“LETTERS – Follow Procedure,” June 4, 2009)
Those who support revising the house system say it doesn’t work and that the district doesn’t the money needed to make sure the individual houses are successful. (“LETTERS -- Revise the House System,” June 4, 2009)