Supporters of a Separate Malibu School District Study Gather Signatures
• Volunteers Expect to Collect Total Number Required by the End of the Month
BY ANNE SOBLE
BY ANNE SOBLE
Malibu voters are starting to receive campaign mailings from city council candidates on the April 8 ballot, but that’s not the only political game in town. Also drawing attention is consideration of secession from the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. A petition drive is currently underway to determine whether to study the feasibility of terminating a half-century-long connection with Santa Monica and form a separate local school district.
District secession emerges as a community issue intermittently, but a recent clash over allocation of Measure BB bond money and displeasure with facets of the parcel tax consolidation and increase in the form of Measure R, which would not have passed this month if it was up to Malibu voters, have breathed new life into the notion.
Study of secession requires the signatures of approximately 25 percent of the 8370 registered city voters and the 1989 voters on the rolls in unincorporated Malibu (all of whom are in the school district) to get the feasibility study started.
Volunteers are tentatively slated to collect signatures at the Ralph’s Market on Saturday, Feb. 23, 10-1; Monday, Feb. 25, 10-1; and Wednesday, Feb. 27, 3:30-5:30. Some of the times for voter sign-up at HOWS Market are: Thursday, Feb. 21, 9-noon; and Sunday, Feb. 24, 9-11 and 3-6.
Signatures have to be validated within 30 days of petition completion. If the signatures pass muster, the petition goes to the Committee on School District Organization, an 11-member county panel charged with reviewing district reorganizations.
The committee could take several months, as many as six, to hold public hearings and study the financial and educational impacts of district reorganization on all of the public schools in Malibu and Santa Monica.
If the committee finds separation to be feasible, the application proceeds to the State Board of Education. Again, there is no formal timetable as to when that panel would have to take action on the proposal.
The state board is expected to conduct its own feasibility study, as well as undertake an environmental impact report. Only if both of these studies result in favorable analyses, would the matter go to a Malibu vote.
A random sampling of Malibuites casting ballots on Super Tuesday by a team of Malibu Surfside News reporters indicated that residents appear divided on the merits of a district split.