The City of Santa Monica and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District have finalized an agreement that will provide at least $6 million a year for the next five years to the school district and allow city use of school facilities.
The Santa Monica City Council voted Tuesday, April 12th, to approve the Master Facilities Use Agreement, which will double the city’s annual funding to the school district in return for city use of school facilities, including playgrounds, play fields and recreational facilities during non-school hours.
The city has previously allocated funding to the school, but the multiyear Master Facilities Use Agreement is intended to maximize revenue to the district, according to city officials.
Santa Monica city manager Susan McCarthy — who negotiated the agreement terms with district superintendent of schools John Deasy — called the agreement “an exchange of values that meets the needs of both the city and the schools.”
The agreement will be in effect until June 30th, 2009, and the $6 million base payment may be increased or decreased by as much as $1 million annually depending on the city fiscal status.
The City Council authorized McCarthy and Deasy to determine the timing of city payments to the district.
With the agreement, the city and the school district have “set a model for the state” on the issue of funding public education, the school superintendent said.
“I’m so proud of our work together,” Deasy told the City Council. “On behalf of the many students who don’t have a voice (on the issue), I thank you.”
Early last year, the Santa Monica-based organization Community for Excellent Public Schools announced its effort to try to create a city charter amendment through a November 2004 ballot measure that, if passed by voters, would have forced the city to make annual payments to the district.
The move influenced the city to take action, and in the spring of last year, the district Board of Education and the City Council agreed to the basic terms of the multiyear agreement.
Community for Excellent Public Schools co-chair Shari Davis praised the agreement while attending the City Council meeting Tuesday, April 12th.
“I’m extremely pleased to be here as we finalize this important agreement between the city and the schools,” Davis said. “Six-million dollars on a long-term basis means so much to the schools.”
Louis Jaffe, co-chair with Davis, said it was a “very unique and challenging process” to come to the final agreement, but that the city should be proud.
Under the agreement, funding will be provided to the entire school district, which includes Malibu schools.
The community will also be able to enjoy access to the school facilities when they are not being used by the school district, McCarthy said.
The use of school facilities will create more recreational opportunities for the community because the city’s recreational facilities are limited in size and not sufficient to accommodate the city’s current recreational needs, city officials said.
Santa Monica Councilman Richard Bloom said the city has taken a “magnificent journey” in coming to the agreement, and is also very fortunate because many school districts are unable to create such an agreement.
“We have a lot to be proud of in Santa Monica and this is one of our crowning achievements,” Bloom said.
Santa Monica Councilman Bob Holbrook said he was also pleased that the city was able to find a way to help the public schools because many cities are unable to help their school system.
“We should be proud as a community,” Santa Monica Councilman Ken Genser said. “We’re doing this for the next generation.”