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LETTER: Support Malibu, Santa Monica Schools By Voting for Reform

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified parents need School Board representation from candidates who are first and foremost parents with young kids in our schools right now.

In this election season where so many critical decisions will be made at the local, state and federal level, I am writing this letter to urge parents in Malibu AND Santa Monica to support the SMMUSD School Board reform slate of Craig Foster, Karen Farrer and Seth Jacobson. 

Many have eloquently stated why Malibu needs a voice on the school board. I want to put forth a far more global argument in favor of the Reform Slate. 

SMMUSD parents need School Board representation from candidates who are first and foremost parents with young kids in our schools right now. All three reform slate candidates have children in our schools today—children who will be directly impacted for many years to come by the decisions being made by our school board right now. They have children who are now sitting in classes with 30 percent more students than were in those same classrooms two years ago. 

All three sit on governing bodies at our schools and all three routinely volunteer IN our schools. There is no argument where someone who is inside a school on a daily or weekly basis is less informed to fight for the needs of all of our children than someone without any kids in any of our schools.

Forget asking “when was the last time you saw one of the incumbent Board members at your school in an off election year?”

Ask instead: “when was the last time one of the incumbent Board members seeking reelection rolled up his or her sleeves to volunteer to help a teacher or a school on a regular basis?” 

Ask: “When was the last time one of those Board members was asked by his or her child for help with homework or an art project or why there might not be vocal music for a younger sibling?” 

Ask: “Are any of the incumbents certified teachers?” Craig Foster is a certified teacher working in our district right now. 

Ask: “Are any of the current board members founding members of one of our district’s most effective fund raising bodies?” Karen Farrer is a founding and current member of the Shark Fund and Seth Jacobson is the current President of the Shark Fund.  

Ask about expertise in making difficult financial decisions and you will find that Craig Foster is a retired financial executive and that Seth Jacobson sat on the President’s Council for Small Business Innovation. 

Ask about passion and you will see that Karen, Craig and Seth all volunteer in their schools, on their Unit PTAs, on PTA Council and on various Districtwide committees. In fact, Karen Farrer has 21 years of service to SMMUSD PTAs and PTA council. 

These are challenging economic times for our state, and difficult decisions need to be made for our schools. As a parent at Webster Elementary School, I know I would prefer that those decisions be made by SMMUSD School Board members who will witness, day in and day out, the ramifications of those decisions. 

Wouldn’t you rather have representatives who are committed to making cuts in district administrative costs rather than in our classrooms? 

For instance, the reform slate would “instruct the superintendent to execute a district centralized cost review and reduction to reduce costs to near a like district such as Conejo Valley USD levels ($643/student) versus SMMUSD ($1,342) saving $7.1mm per year.”  

This is not just a Malibu versus Santa Monica representation election—this is a Parents with young children in our classrooms versus those without election issue. And it is a consideration that every parent in our district needs to weigh as they go to the polls.  

I for one think it is time to give three candidates with passion, a clear vision, and a real and tangible stake in the decisions made for all of our children a chance to make real and positive change. Please vote for the Reform Slate on Nov. 6.

Kathie Ferbas
Malibu parent

Susan Josephson October 13, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Great eloquent letter. The issue is significant and we need the communities to unite and allow parents to lead our children with passion and sensibility. Thank you for writing such a strong important letter. Thank you volunteers and continue to speak up for all of us and lead out communities with action and good intentions.
Brenda Barnes October 14, 2012 at 08:18 PM
I wonder why the press keeps mentioning these are Malibu residents? The Malibu versus Santa Monica fight within the District has gone on far too long already.
John W. Elman October 21, 2012 at 02:23 PM
I would like to remind everyone that all 6 candidates for the SMMUSD school board will be taking part in a debate Wednesday October 24th at 7:30 p.m. in the Fireside Room of Pepperdine University. The public is invented to this forum. Event is sponsored by the Malibu Rotary Club and Patch Editor Jessica Davis will be moderator, asking questions submitted by Malibu Patch readers. http://malibu.patch.com/articles/smmusd-school-board-candidates-to-meet-in-malibu-for-forum

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