SMMUSD Drops Any Pretense Of Neutrality, Pushes Santa Monica’s Side – Malibu Warns of $4 Billion Tax Transfer To SM Over 50 Years

Written by on October 29, 2020

Minutes before Malibu convened a town meeting last night on school district separation … superintendent Ben Drati made it clear that our school district’s official stand is to fight Malibu.

The superintendent sent a letter to parents alleging that the Malibu divorce plan would be drastically unfair to kids in Santa Monica schools.

But the figures cited by Drati in his letter were not accurate in describing the financial impact …. according to the city of Malibu’s consultants.

The Santa Monica superintendent blasted Malibu’s city council for breaking off talks … and blamed the pandemic for the impasse reported by city council member Karen Farrer.

And Drati said our school district is “deeply skeptical of what we’ve seen thus far.” 

Drati says the Malibu City Council has chosen to move forward with an approach that would separate SMMUSD into two very unequal districts — where Santa Monica students receive approximately half of what Malibu students will receive on a per student basis within five years.

But at last night’s Malibu town hall meeting … consultant Tanaya Kirk Carter said that Santa Monica is not counting a flood of property tax revenue that will flow from Malibu to Santa Monica.

How much property tax revenue?

Try 4 billion dollars over the next 50 years.


“The proposal that was submitted by the Santa Monica financial consultant over 10 years it would have been $150 million of Malibu property taxes given to Santa Monica … and over 50 years it would have been $4 billion on Malibu taxes that would be handed over.”

Malibu’s consultants said last night that Santa Monica officials re only looking at one category … and not all the other monies that will make Santa Monica better than whole if malibu exists.

Consultant Cathy Domonick.


“One of them is redevelopment funding which is specific to the Santa Monica area.

“Another is a City of Santa Monica sales tax.

“Another is a joint use arrangement with the City of Santa Monica and the future Santa Monica district.

“And so when you apply those to the revenue sources of the future Santa Monica District … it actually increases their per student funding.”

In Santa Monica … superintendent Ben Drati says the Malibu tax assumptions are unrealistic and inequitable.

And Drati complains that on top of all that … Malibu’s action comes at a time when we are all addressing a worldwide pandemic.

Malibu consultant Cathy Domonick says … the pandemic os no reason to ignore the need for divorce.


“This process is very likely to increase the term of the pandemic.

“Should we put a freeze on it because there is a financial challenge right now?

“Well we are looking several years sown the road and we don’t know what the financial situation is going to look like then.”

How far down the road?

One L A school district is still trying to settle its school district boundary issues … a quest it began in 1960.

That’s Nineteen Sixty.

The financial arguments from Santa Monica are perhaps to be expected … and can be expected to be hashed out in the county board of education’s divorce court.

What is unexpected … is that Malibu tax dollars are now going to fund the Santa Monica position … as voiced by a school superintendent who works for taxpayers in both cities.

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