Council Votes 3-0-1 For Independent Malibu School District, But Silverstein Later Voices Unhappiness With Deal

Written by on October 28, 2022

UPDATED 2:47 PM with Silverstein releasing statement of general unhappiness with deal.

UPDATED 4:17 PM with terms of financial deal.

The Malibu city council has approved the framework for creating an independent Malibu school district in 2024, but one city council member said after the meeting the agreement is  “grandstanding” and speculated that the agreement might fail.

The Santa Monica-based district has apparently already agreed to the framework, but both sides need to agree on details, officials said.

The city council voted at 10:45 today to accept the agreement, subject to final haggling on three matters, according to acting city attorney Trevor Russin.

The council approved a “term sheet” with the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, a legal agreement that Russin said contains a conceptual framework that sets forth the process and timeline for creating an independent Malibu Unified School distric.

“The council also authorized it’s legal and financial consultants to continue to negotiate three separate agreements contemplated by the term sheet that would accomplish a full separation:

  • An attached revenue sharing agreement
  • an operational agreement, and 
  • a joint powers agreement.

Russin continued: “The city and district will continue these negotiations with the mediator to finalize these agreements processes are accomplish within the proposed time frames and independent Malibu school district could be formed by July 1, 2024,”

The “term sheet” was released at 3 p.m. by the district, and it contains.complicated financial calculations: .  It is a seven-page, single-spaced legal agreement, spelling out details for numerous tax revenues, and other income, that the current joint-city school district receives.

it contains a time line for numerous further negotiations and agreements, any of which that could go wrong and derail the schedule.   If all goes well, the Malibu Unified School District could start independent operations July 1, 2024.

The agreement calls for Santa Monica and Malibu to both get “adequate resources” for school operations set aside from incoming revenue on the first day of division, and Malibu would also get enough money to set up its independent school administration.

Malibu would use its property tax revenues to ensure that the per-pupil funding in Santa Monica does not drop.  That subsidy would be adjusted upward with inflation.  That transfer will continue until 2042, when it will begin to taper off, until the Malibu subsidy to Santa Monic will expire, at some point between 2047 and 2052.

Malibu would also promise to make good Santa Monica for any changes in state funding formulas, or changes in property tax revenues resulting from calamity, natural disaster or other unforeseen changes in property tax revenues.

Just how big the property tax subsidy from Malibu to Santa Monica would be is a matter of whole speculation.  But Malibu school district advocates have stressed that the deal will not increase taxes, but merely agree to continue send some of the lucrative Malibu property tax bounty to Santa Monica in exchange for local control.

Councilmember Bruce Silverstein missed most of today’s closed door city council meeting, and said nothing publicly when it concluded.

But after the meeting, Silverstein said on Facebook that “three important agreements remain to be negotiated, and there is no guarantee that any of them, much less all of them, will be successfully negotiated, much less within the contemplated time frame.”

In his Facebook post, Silverstein said the terms that have yet to be agreed between the city and the school district are “an unenforceable agreement to try to reach an agreement about multiple matters with respect to which the parties remain sharply divided.

“Personally, I believe that this is just political grandstanding,” he wrote.  

“Moreover, the two City Council members who negotiated this non-agreement are leaving the City Council without running for a second term — which absolves them from any responsibility to reach a true agreement that can be enforced in a Court of Law.”

In his statement, Silverstein blasted KBUU News as “fake news” – presumably for carrying, both live and on tape, the acting city attorney noting that the exact and final terms had yet to be met.  At the time KBUU broadcast and published news of the agreement, Silverstein had not issued any public statements opposing it.

And Silverstein did not say anything at the public portion of the meeting, which started at 10.  He arrived in the conference room just before it ended, according to participants.

Silverstein’s dissatisfaction with the independent Malibu school district tosses the matter into the Malibu city council election race.   Although all five candidates for the two open seats have supported an independent Malibu school district, it is not clear what the financial terms are, much less if the various candidates will support the final agreement.

Councilman Steve Uhring did not attend today’s meeting.

The other city council members approved it: Karen Farrer, Paul Grisanti, and Mikke Pierson.

And despite Silverstein’s opposition – which he did not voice during the public meeting – as of 10:45 today the Malibu city council had voted in favor of the tentative agreement. 

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