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LETTER: Why I’ll Be Voting For Measure ES

Malibu resident and SMMUSD school board candidate Craig Foster says he will vote for Measure ES in the upcoming Nov. 6 election.

The new $385 million bond measure, Measure ES, is not without major flaws. However, I will be voting “yes” on Nov. 6 for three reasons.

One, SAMOHI is clearly in need of major structural reconstruction and a failed ES will prevent those renovations from being made. So long as we are in SMMUSD, we need to be concerned about the welfare of all the students in the district and supporting these projects at SAMOHI is the right thing to do.

Two, 20 percent of this bond is set aside in a legally binding guarantee to be spent in Malibu - in addition to the funds that will be spent in Malibu from districtwide projects like classroom technology improvements and related training.

Finally, and most important to my “yes” vote, I expect the SMMUSD school board to approve the creation of a “Malibu Super Site Committee” in their Nov. 1 meeting. This committee will be 100 percent Malibuites and will represent a broad cross section of school site committees and other educational and geographic stakeholders (including, of course, unincorporated Malibu).

This committee will decide how Malibu’s $77 million will be spent. It will have the resources (project managers, architects, etc) to make fully executable plans. It will pass those plans to the larger Measure ES committee.

Most importantly, if those plans are changed by the larger committee, the plans will be returned to Malibu’s committee for reconsideration. No plan will be submitted to the school board until it meets the Malibu Super Site Committee's approval in its final form.

How, when, and if we choose to spend Malibu’s guaranteed share of the bond will be up to us, by law and by board policy. That’s a huge step forward and, along with SAMOHI’s clear need for renovation, just reason enough for me to vote yes on ES.

— Craig Foster, Malibu

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Craig H. Foster October 30, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Hi Steve! ES is definitely flawed. However, perhaps my vote would make more sense if I correct some misunderstandings. The commonly agreed statistic is that Malibu pays 31% or $119mm and receives 20% or $77mm. While I have not checked the tax rolls myself, that is a number that has been in use for a while. The 20% allocation of ES funds to Malibu is in the official language of the bond and thus is beyond the school board's ability to change. The Malibu Super Site Committee, when approved by the board this Thursday, will have final say on how Malibu's 20% will be spent. The structure of the ES process will be such that any changes made to the Malibu Super Site Committee's plan will have to return to that committee. Nothing goes to the board regarding our 20% that our committee hasn't approved. Malibu residents will be part of the BB/ES committee as well, though as a superminority. As for representation, Malibu has three candidates on the school board ballot next week. Also, win or lose, we will continue to pursue changes to school board structure and composition which will make it more representative.
Hans Laetz October 30, 2012 at 12:44 AM
I was wrong in opposing ES, Foster is right. If Malibu has any prayer for local control of its schools, it must vote for the bonds. Divorce is dead if we do not show the county Board of Ed that this community will support a bond issue, It's that simple.
Steve Scheinkman October 30, 2012 at 10:26 AM
Craig- I was told in 2010 that Malibu pays 35%. My point is the same whether its 31% or 35%. I understand that the language states that 20% of the bond proceeds will be used to "benefit" Malibu area schools. I don't think that this provides a guarantee that 20% of the proceeds will go directly into Malibu schools given available allocation methods for soft and administration costs and how "benefit" can be redefined. Less than 15% of BB went directly into Malibu schools. The Super Site Committee is not part of the bond verbiage and I do not see any provision that guarantees it any authority or protection that the school board won't make any subsequent changes. The Board has not told us how all of the money is going to be spent. If Malibu is being asked to pay for more than 30% of the bond we are entitled to know how the entire bond proceeds are going to be used and have full representation on the school board. We can't rely on trust- we all know where that got us. I agree with the point Hans makes with the exception of timing. If the Board wants Malibu support for ES, and if they support the "divorce", they should have taken steps to give Malibu representation on the Board. They could have made this happen but choose not to. With guaranteed representation, Malibu could then show the county Board of Ed that it will support a bond measure. Good luck on the election- I will be voting for you!
Hans Laetz October 30, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Steve, you make excellent points and I am in complete accord with your reasoning and conclusions. The problem is this: the bond issue is going to pass, according to all indications, based on the Santa Monica voters alone. According to the surveys (which can be wrong or wrongly interpreted, true), the measure will succeed with the required percentage EVEN IF EVERY SINGLE MALIBU VOTER VOTES NO. I was also arguing in public for a protest vote. Show Santa Monica that Malibu is not being heard. Makes sense. So let's say we succeed. Santa Monica votes 80 percent yes, Malibu votes 80 percent no. Measure ES passes, our little occupied colony has made our voice clear. Then, the L.A. County Board of Education looks at our request. Malibu turned down an urgently-needed bond issue (Samohi is in very bad shape). Ergo, Malibu does not support local school bond issues. Therefore, a Malibu School District would be crippled by a voter base that opposes bond issues. A "no" vote on ES, perversely, is a "no" vote for a separate, local control Malibu school district.
Craig H. Foster October 31, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Hi Steve! Thanks for your support! I very much appreciate it! The Super Site Committee will be voted on in the Nov. 1 school board meeting this Thursday in the Malibu City Council Chambers. We'll know if it passed before the election, though I do expect that it will pass. As for representation and the process through which ES was brought forward, of course, I share your concerns and frustration. Hopefully, Seth, Karen, and I are elected and we can change the lack of inclusion in the district's decision making process. However, unfortunately, this decision has to be made before we can make those changes.

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