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Malibu families have been seeking separation for decades. Organized separation efforts began as early as the 1970s. In 2010, Malibu residents formed Advocates for Malibu Public Schools. In 2015, the community approached the City to get involved on behalf of its residents.
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Residents may forward letters to the City describing any interaction, unfilled curricular needs, and experiences as a Malibu resident of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD). An online survey is available to easily submit these testimonials.
No, the new district will be funded on its pro-rata share of property taxes and minimum State aid according to already established formulas.
The Malibu City Council approved the effort to establish a locally controlled school district in 2015. Committees were formed, reports and recommendations submitted, but all were rejected by the SM-MUSD Board of Education. Negotiations between the City and the school district began in 2018. Many financial/revenue proposals were submitted and rejected. The main sticking point was a permanent redistribution of Malibu property taxes to the new Santa Monica School District. After years of negotiations with no agreement, the City decided it would be best to move forward on a petition for school district separation.
With local control, it is expected that enrollment will rise in the newly formed Malibu Unified School District (MUSD). In other California school districts that reorganized, students who were in private schools and/or home schooled enrolled in the newly formed district. It is forecasted that the newly formed district will be a Basic Aid district, or a district that is primarily funded on local property taxes; therefore, it will be less of a burden to the State of California. Because of that, the number of enrolled students will not financially hurt the State/District, making a smaller enrolled student population a non-issue.
Approvals by the Los Angeles County Committee on Reorganization and the California State Board of Education are needed first. In other petitions reviewed throughout the state, traditionally only the affected area was chosen as the voter area. We cannot be sure what the voter area will be until it is decided by the State Board of Education.
Yes, California school districts are funded based upon the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), and no two school districts are the same – many factors go into the formula to determine the funding rate. The great thing is that both new districts will receive funding ABOVE the calculated LCFF amount, making them two of the few school districts in the state to enjoy that level of funding. Once the Districts split, each will have different rates of growth in revenue based upon the assessed valuation growth rate in the property taxes. Malibu and Santa Monica will certainly grow at different rates, thus the differences in the per pupil funding.
The path to unification is a long, winding road. In Los Angeles County, no two petitions are the same. In a best case scenario, it will take several years for the process to conclude, Therefore, it is unlikely that the pandemic will be an issue.
California law dictates that all employees at the existing school of the newly formed district will have the same employment rights, salaries and seniority as they had in the former District.
No. SM-MUSD’s figures are based on financial projections of Malibu’s future property tax revenue. These projections assume that Malibu’s tax base would triple in the next 10 years. The reality is it hasn’t even doubled in the last 10 years.
No. The federal law requires that a school district provide services to vulnerable populations and the federal government provides dedicated funding for them. SM-MUSD will not see any reduction in the amount of funding for these programs on a per-student basis as a result of the proposed separation.
No. SM-MUSD already has separate K-12 pathways for students in Santa Monica and Malibu. Students in Santa Monica will continue to go to Santa Monica schools and students in Malibu will continue to go to Malibu schools.
SM-MUSD currently receives funding from the State and federal government, property tax, parcel tax, and other local funding sources including sales tax and rents generated from SM-MUSD owned properties. In 2018, the SM-MUSD’s “other funding” sources equaled approximately $50 million, almost 35% of its General Fund Budget.
After the proposed separation, the property and parcel tax revenue generated in Malibu would be allocated to MUSD along with applicable state and federal funding. The proposed Santa Monica Unified School District (SMUSD) would receive property and parcel tax funding generated in Santa Monica, State and federal funding, and its other local funding sources: namely sales tax and rents from SM-MUSD properties.
The City estimates that SMUSD’s “other funding” sources generate approximately $50 million per year. This is funding which SMUSD would retain after separation and would largely offset the loss of property tax revenue from Malibu.
Per pupil funding is expected to increase in SMUSD and MUSD as a result of separation. Although it unlikely to be needed, Malibu has offered to provide a 10-year revenue sharing plan in which MUSD would transfer funding to SMUSD to ensure that per pupil funding in both districts remains at current, pre-separation levels.
SM-MUSD is currently ranked 3rd in per pupil funding in Los Angeles County. The City has proposed a 10-year revenue sharing plan that guarantees that the Santa Monica Unified School District (SMUSD) will remain at lease at its current per pupil funding level. After separation, the City anticipates that MUSD will rank 3rd and SMUSD will rank 4th in per pupil funding in Los Angeles County.
In 2021, the greater Malibu area is expected to pay almost $38 million in property and parcel taxes which represented approximately a third of SM-MUSD’s total property tax revenue.
No. Attendance boundaries will not change. Students will still be able to attend their current schools if the split is approved.
Property tax allocations for schools and other special districts are set by geographic Tax Rate Areas (TRAs) locally administered by the County of Los Angeles. There are approximately 40 TRAs in the SM-MUSD territory. As part of the separation, the City is proposing that revenue from the TRAs with Santa Monica be used to fund SMUSD and the TRAs in Malibu be used to fund MUSD. You can find out more about your property taxes and TRAs here: auditor.lacounty.gov
The proposed boundaries extend beyond the Malibu city limits into the unincorporated areas currently served by the SM-MUSD.
No. The proposed MUSD boundaries include the greater Malibu area, including areas of unincorporated Los Angeles County, that are currently part of SM-MUSD.
Currently, SM-MUSD Board Members are elected at-large. Malibu only represents a small fraction of the total voters in the SM-MUSD territory. Malibu voters are outnumbered and there is no guarantee that Malibu will have any representation the SM-MUSD School Board. In fact, there have been times when not one of the seven SM-MUSD Board Members lived in Malibu. Without representation on the school board, the wishes of the Malibu community have not been adequately addressed by the Santa Monica-focused school board.
Yes. If a MUSD is formed, Malibu voters will elect Schools Board members.
SM-MUSD was formed over 150 years ago to create financial and educational efficiencies at a time when the populations of both areas were relatively small. The district could never be formed under current laws. The state requires school districts to represent contiguous areas. Malibu and Santa Monica aren’t geographically connected. You have to leapfrog parts of the City of Los Angeles, served by LA Unified, to get from Malibu to Santa Monica.
Despite the City’s proposed 10-year revenue sharing plan to ensure that per pupil funding remains at the current, pre-separation levels, SM-MUSD has claimed that educational programs will need to be cut. The City does not believe that the separation will result in the need for program cuts, it is more likely that an existing structural budget deficit will drive the need for such cuts. Ironically, many of the programs SM-MUSD allege will be cut aren’t even offered in Malibu now including English as a Second Language programs, summer language academy, project based learning, music and art programs.
SM-MUSD is currently a Basic Aid district, meaning they received property taxes in excess of their state calculated Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), school funding amount. Although they are one of the highest funded school districts in Los Angeles County, on a per pupil basis, in 2020-21, they only collected excess property taxes of approximately $4 million. This equates to about 4% of their total budget. The District’s other funding sources drive their high funding levels.
The Malibu community has desired school district separation for decades. Several citizens groups have attempted to initiate the reorganization process. Due to many complexities related to school district separations, Malibu citizens requested the City to get involved on behalf of its residents. The law allows for all expenditures made by the City related to school district separation to be reimbursed by the future Malibu USD.