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Santa Monica-Malibu School Board Takes Steps to Create Separate Funding Districts
By Jorge Casuso
April 16, 2018 -- Paving the way for potentially splitting the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, the School Board on Thursday took initial steps to form two school facilities improvement districts (SFIDs).
On a 7-0 vote, the Board requested action by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to authorize a separate funding district for each city, which officials said would result in a more equitable distribution of funding capital projects in both districts.
"Even if there weren't a split," School Board member Oscar de la Torre said after the vote, "the Malibu folks say they pay a larger (proportion) of the taxes and get less benefit.
"We don't know where (the separation) can go and it can be a long term process, but this decision probably makes sense at this point," de la Torre said.
He added that Malibu voters would be "more likely to vote for favorably" for bond measures, and their counterparts in Santa Monica would be "more comfortable" knowing the money they approve would fund projects in their city.
Creating two SFIDs would be a departure from the practice of issuing General Obligation Facility Bonds that encompass the entire district boundaries, officials said.
"In order to achieve the necessary financing for its facilities needs and commence important school facilities improvement projects, it may be in the best interests of the District to commence the process of forming two SFIDs," staff wrote in its report to the Board.
Under the proposal, bonds would only be issued after voter approval within the respective SFIDs, officials said. Bond revenue raised in the each SFID would only be used for projects in that funding district.
"The formation of the SFIDs is necessary to allow the Malibu Schools and Santa Monica Schools communities’ greater independence in facility planning, projects and funding," staff said.
The separate funding districts can only be formed if the County Board of Supervisors adopts the SFID law authorizing the school district to proceed, officials said.
A number of steps must be completed before the November election, they said.
Once the Board of Supervisors considers authorizing the separate districts in early May, The School Board would hold a public hearing, most likely during a regularly scheduled meeting later that month.
In June, the Board would hold a second public hearing and consider a resolution to form the separate funding districts.
At its July 19 meeting, the Board would consider adopting resolutions to place General Obligation Bonds for the two districts on the November ballot.
"Adopting this resolution requesting approval to form SFIDs does not commit the Board to form SFIDs or call for an election," staff wrote in its report.
"However, it is essential to consider this resolution at this time in order to achieve all steps to meet the election deadlines."
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