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Frequently Asked Questions

21st-Century Schools for All Students

Potential Local School Bonds for School Improvements

How is Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District performing?

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is one of the top-ranked districts in California. U.S. News & World Report ranked both Santa Monica and Malibu high schools among the nation’s best out of the 22,000 schools reviewed in 2017. Our high-achieving schools make Santa Monica and Malibu desirable communities to raise a family, improving the quality of life and positively impacting property values. Every day our high-quality teachers and faculty help students become critical thinkers and develop strong skills in science, technology, engineering, math and the arts.

What are the challenges facing SMMUSD schools?

Keeping up with evolving academic standards is essential to providing all our students with access to advanced education. In much the same way work and office environments have changed, the processes of learning are changing. Although some local schools and classrooms have been modernized, others have not. There is much more to do to support 21st-century learning in all our schools.

What kind of improvements do SMMUSD school facilities need?

While some schools have been modernized, others have not. We still have many old schools -- Some neighborhood schools are 70 years old -- including our local high schools, and facilities assessments show they need repairs and upgrades to meet today's academic and safety standards. In addition, the older facilities need to shift to support 21st century learning strategies and objectives as well as accommodate technology and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) instruction.

How is the District planning to address these needs?

Public school districts have limited options when it comes to financing essential school facility improvements, and the State provides very minimal assistance. Therefore, SMMUSD is considering placing bonds before local voters on the November 2018 ballot. Passage of local funding measures would meet the District's urgent needs to repair and upgrade our older schools. In order to provide maximum local control to Malibu and Santa Monica in determining the use of each community's funds, the Board is considering the creation of two School Facility Improvement Districts ("SFIDs"), and potential separate bond measures for Santa Monica and Malibu.

What is a School Facility Improvement District ("SFID")?

The formation of SFIDs would dedicate funds raised by the bond measures to schools within each respective community. A Board decision on whether to move forward will be made this summer.

How would the funds be used to benefit local students?

Passage of local bonds would meet the District's urgent needs to repair and upgrade our older schools. Local bond measure funds would be used to:
  • Add and modernize science labs and build classrooms for teaching career and technical skills to help students succeed in 21st-century jobs
  • Improve and upgrade classrooms to support instruction in math, science and technology, and improve arts and music education
  • Fix leaky roofs in older schools that are causing power outages and replace or repair aging school restrooms and plumbing, where needed
  • Replace old, deteriorated portable classrooms with safe, modern classrooms
  • Remove hazardous materials from local schools; repair and replace deteriorating school floors, walls, windows and roofs

Could funds be taken away by the State?

No. By law, all funds would stay local to support our local schools, and no funds could be taken away by the State or go to other communities.

What is the amount and cost of the bonds under consideration?

The amount of the local bonds has yet to be determined. The Board is considering a rate not to exceed $40 per $100,000 of assessed (not market) value. Assessed value of a property is based on LA County Assessor's office, and is typically significantly lower than market value, especially for long-time homeowners. This would yield up to $485M for Santa Monica and $250M for Malibu school repairs and upgrades. While voter approval of the bonds would authorize the District with the total amount, the bonds would be issued in phases and only in the amount needed to fund Board approved projects at that time.

How would I know that funds would be spent appropriately?

Independent citizens' oversight and annual audits would be required to ensure that funds are spent as promised.

Who would be eligible to vote on these measures?

All registered voters who live in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District boundaries would be eligible to vote on the measure pertaining to their respective communities.

Did we pass a bond measure recently?

The last bond measure passed by local voters was in 2012 (Measure ES), a $385M bond which helped the District address the most pressing needs at that time and continued the work of improving all Santa Monica-Malibu schools. All previous bond funding is fully committed to existing projects and cannot address all of our schools' needs.

How can I learn more?

Please feel free to visit for additional information or contact SMMUSD Superintendent Ben Drati with additional questions at

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District
1651 16th Street
Santa Monica, California 90404