Messages from Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati

  • October 4, 2022

    Superintendent’s Message: Muir / SMASH campus update

    Dear Parents, Guardians, Staff and Community Members,

    As you are aware, we started this school year with Muir families assigned to new schools. We continue to hear from many parents who say their students have adapted well to their new school. SMASH students have moved to the Obama Campus. We know that there is strong interest to return to the close community of families that makes the Muir / SMASH campus so special.

    We appreciate the welcome and acceptance of the Muir families at our other Santa Monica schools. I would like to thank all PTA unit members and site staff who provided the Muir family with this warm welcome and continue to provide ongoing support.

    Again, we wish this relocation had not been necessary. I know I speak for the entire Board of Education and our district staff in once again expressing how sorry we are for the situation. We very much appreciate the resilience of our students and families.

    The process to repair and improve the Muir / SMASH campus is moving forward as planned to improve the beloved neighborhood school that will continue, better than ever, when it reopens following renovation. I will describe more about the building process later in this message.

    I want to address a few remaining concerns we are hard at work trying to address.

    Return of Neighborhood School
    There will be a renewed and restored neighborhood school once the necessary work is done on the affected buildings to ensure that the facilities are safe and ready to welcome students and teachers back. Beginning in early November, we will commence meetings with a committee of parents and staff from Muir and SMASH where we will be ready to discuss programs and opportunities for the renewed Muir / SMASH campus. More information will follow about this phase soon. Please rest assured that the process will be an inclusive one.

    Bus Service
    We continue to work on hiring bus drivers to take students back and forth between the Muir neighborhood and Will Rogers Learning Community and Grant Elementary School and would very much like to make this available for families. Unfortunately, we continue to be short five bus drivers and do not currently have the ability to run this route.

    In the meantime, all students in SMMUSD are offered free Metro cards that can be used on the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus. Please check with your school office to obtain the free student card. We have recently been made aware that some parents want to be able to accompany students on the bus each day and we are looking into the best way to provide prepaid bus cards for interested parents. If you are interested in a bus pass to ride the bus with your child to school, please contact your school community liaison or administrator.

    Services for English Learners
    We value our English learners and support is available for them, as it was when English learners were at John Muir. If your student is an English learner, they have access to all the programming and support that was available to them at Muir at their new school. There has been no change due to the relocation of students to other schools. Please contact your child’s principal if you would like to discuss concerns. I have instructed all site administrators to make this support a priority.

    Crossing guard for Lincoln and Ocean Park Boulevards
    The district is working with the City and Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) to hire a crossing guard for the corner of Lincoln Boulevard and Ocean Park Boulevard. The City and SMPD initially determined that a crossing guard was not needed at that intersection since there are signals and crosswalks. However, we are appealing that decision and are making it a priority to urge the City to reconsider this decision and we will let you know when the crossing guard situation will be addressed.

    In September, we provided an update in our monthly newsletter regarding the status of the campus: https://www.smore.com/scuy3 This update describes the presentation updating the School Board on the status of the project, along with the selection of the design architect made in the public school board meeting on September 1. You can watch the presentation in this video:http://santamonica.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=5&clip_id=4917 Forward to 3:18 into the video to view this presentation.

    We expect the architect will be on site in the coming days and weeks with investigations into the full range of water intrusion damage. We anticipate the design work to be completed this fall and the following step will be to submit the plan to the Division of State Architects (DSA).

    We are also now working to procure the contractor to do the repair work. We expect construction to begin in April 2023, with targeted campus reopening in August 2024. Throughout the process, the school board will review and approve steps, and the community will be informed of the progress.

    Please keep in mind that while you may not see much activity on campus until April, vital work is happening to reopen the campus.

    If you have any comments regarding this ongoing project, please submit them through our Let’s Talk portal: www.smmusd.org/Superintendent, click on the Muir / SMASH campus project button.

    Thank you again for your collaboration, your openness and your resilience during a challenging and unexpected disruption. We are here to help. We want to make this as positive and supportive an experience as possible.

    Thank you.

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Ben Drati, Superintendent

    Mensaje del Superintendente: Actualización acerca de los planteles Muir/ SMASH