From Renters Write - July 2012

Schools: It's What You Do With What You Got

Nearing the end of her first year at the helm of Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, Superintendent Sandy Lyon has impressed the community with her intelligence, poise, patience, managerial skill, and affability.District academic scores continue to increase despite the state cuts to education, and our City Council has just approved a 10-year extension of the critical City-District Joint Use Agreement.

Superintendent Lyon spearheaded a shift toward Districtwide fundraising for staffing, and is in the process of finalizing her proposals to the board for a roll-out of the program. We hope that this shift will lead to a more equitable and robust source and expenditure of funds to improve District programming across the board.

We look forward to upcoming discussions on improving the District’s environmental sustainability programs, technology offerings, and have been in exciting conversations with our Teachers Association leadership about improving the District’s teacher evaluation system. We’re also excited about the District’s new Intercultural District Advisory Committee, which is looking at campus climate and the achievement gap in our schools.

Public education in California continues to suffer from relentless cuts from Sacramento, and we desperately hope that one or both of the revenue measures slated for the November ballot will pass. If they don’t, the Governor is warning that schools may face catastrophic trigger cuts mid-year next year.

In spite of all of the difficulties, however, the School Board and District leadership remain totally committed to excellence in our wonderfully diverse schools. This will require careful planning, wise fiscal management, and the continuing hard work of all of our fantastic teachers and staff. We are grateful to have the opportunity to lead our special public school system, and are particularly grateful for the community’s unwavering support for our schools.