Malibu school district agrees to separation ‘framework’

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By Jorge Casuso

Oct. 28, 2022 — In what was quickly dubbed both a “historic moment” and a “politically suspect move,” the school district and the city of Malibu on Friday unveiled a “framework” for moving forward toward separation.

The announcement was made in a press release issued after the Malibu City Council voted 3 to 0 (with one member abstaining and another absent) to agree to the “framework and process.”

The school board – which first agreed to a separation seven years ago that has since collapsed – agreed to the framework at a special meeting on Monday.

“In order to arrive at an equitable and mutually acceptable distribution of operations, resources and assets, it will take a process leading to a variety of specific agreements to finalize and commemorate the specific terms of formation of two independent educational entities,” says the “Term Sheet” posted on Friday.

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Highlights of the framework include:

  • A conceptual financial model to ensure that both districts maintain sufficient revenue and revenue growth to provide the same or higher level of educational programs to students in both territories.
  • A description of the agreements the city and district will need to finalize, including a tax-sharing agreement, operating agreement, and joint powers agreement, to fully implement unification.
  • The pursuit of special legislation to help implement unification.
  • A detailed schedule of the process.

The framework is the result of a series of mediations and joint meetings between the parties that began in April, according to district officials.

“This process that we have identified reflects countless hours of negotiation and hard work on both sides,” said school board member Jon Kean.

“Unification has been discussed, debated and pursued many times over the past decades. The commitment of both parties to move forward in this framework represents the first time that we have been able to mutually agree to a fair financial model.

“Although there is still work to be done, we have reached a historic moment in this process.”

But some of those who worked on previous efforts questioned the timing of the announcement as well as the vague terms outlined in the agreement.

Santa Monica City Councilman Oscar de la Torre called the timing of the announcement, made less than two weeks before the Nov. 8 school board election, “politically suspicious.”

“Nothing is real until the final details are ironed out,” said de la Torre, who served 18 years on the school board.

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