Frequently Asked Questions

  • 21st-Century Schools for All Students

    Local Bonds for School Improvements

    Information for Measure SMS, Santa Monica Schools

    Information for Measure M, Malibu Schools

    How is Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District performing?
    Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) 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 top four percent out of the 18,000 schools reviewed in 2023. 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. 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 school buildings are 70 years old, including our local high schools. Facilities assessments show that our schools need repairs and upgrades to meet today's academic and safety standards, as well as accommodate technology and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) instructional strategies.

    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, the SMMUSD Board of Education placed two measures before local voters on the November 6, 2018 ballot. In order to provide maximum local control to Santa Monica and Malibu in determining the use of each community's funds, the Board created two School Facility Improvement Districts ("SFIDs"), and separate bond measures for Santa Monica and Malibu. Voters overwhelmingly approved both bond measures (Measure SMS for Santa Monica and Measure M for Malibu). Passage of these local funding measures help to meet the District's urgent needs to repair and upgrade our older schools.

    What is a School Facility Improvement District ("SFID")?
    The formation of SFIDs will dedicate funds raised by the bond measures to schools within each respective community.

    How will local bonds improve our schools?

    Passage of local bonds help meet the District's urgent needs to repair and upgrade our older schools.

    • 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

    Specifically, how are local bond funds being used to benefit local students in Santa Monica?

    Santa Monica school improvement plans and projects are well underway to ensure high-quality learning environments for all students. The Discovery building at Samohi was completed and opened in 2021 consisting of 38 new classrooms, including computer, science labs, collaborate spaces, and Olympic-sized pool to the north end of campus.

    Completion of the new John Adams Middle School (JAMS) Performing Arts Center in partnership with Santa Monica College will be an exciting addition for the entire community, replacing JAMS old earthquake-damaged auditorium which has been out of use since 2014. The new space will support choir, orchestra, band and dance programs, integral to the well-rounded education SMMUSD is committed to providing our students.

    The Exploration building and Gold gymnasium are under construction at Samohi planned to be open in fall 2024.

    Fire alarms and secutiry systems have been updated at all schools and extensive heating, air conditioning and ventilation (HVAC) system upgrades have been made to all schools, adding air conditioning to 95% or indoor spaces.

    Local Santa Monica bond-funded projects currently underway include:

    • Create updated classrooms, labs and modern facilities to support hands-on science, math, engineering and technology at Santa Monica High School
    • Complete John Adams Middle School Performing Arts Center to support music and arts programs
    • Install solar and alternative energy/sustainability projects to save energy costs

    Additional likely projects currently under assessment:

    • Modernize science labs at John Adams Middle School
    • Upgrade and improve Lincoln Middle School auditorium
    • Construct new multipurpose room and kitchen at Will Rogers Learning Community
    • Replace portable classrooms at elementary schools

    How are Malibu bond funds being used?
    Planning for specific Malibu school improvement projects is well underway. Reimagined Malibu High and Malibu Middle schools are at the top of the list, as well as the merging of two elementary schools into one. The District will be combining the school communities of Juan Cabrillo Elementary and Point Dume Marine Science School on the current campus of Point Dume beginning in the 2019-20 school year.

    The end result of these projects will bring 21st-century classrooms, science labs and more hands-on learning to Malibu students in clean, safe and engaging learning environments. The projects will integrate environmentally sustainable practices, saving energy costs. Malibu Measure M funds will also:

    • Complete heating and air conditioning, window, paint, floor and door improvements
    • Create updated classrooms, labs and modern facilities to support hands-on science, math, engineering, technology
    • Install solar and alternative energy/sustainability projects to save energy costs
    • Upgrade fire alarms and security systems

    How are local bond funds being used to improve school safety?
    Our District is working to ensure students attend safe, secure learning environments each day. In the next year, we are working to complete these projects in all SMMUSD schools:

    • Improve student safety and security systems
    • Add security cameras to the perimeters of school campuses
    • Require visitors to check in and run their ID through an identity check

    Has the community been involved in the planning of school improvement projects?
    Yes! Local bond expenditures are being guided by community input and feedback. The District has held community events to involve parents, students, staff and community members in the planning process. We will continue to update you on our progress!

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

    What is the amount and cost of the recently-approved bonds?
    Measure SMS is a $485M bond measure (.04 per $100 of assessed (not market) value) approved by Santa Monica voters by 72.07%. Measure M is a $195M bond measure (.03 per $100 of assessed value) was approved by Malibu voters by 71.04%. 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. The funds raised within each community will stay in each community and be used for school repairs and upgrades. While voter approval of the bonds authorized the District with the total amount, the bonds will be issued in phases and only in the amount needed to fund Board-approved projects at that time.

    How will I know that funds would be spent appropriately?
    Independent citizens' oversight and annual audits are required to ensure that funds are spent as promised. Separate bond measure oversight committees for Santa Monica and Malibu are in place.

    How can I learn more?
    Please feel free to contact SMMUSD Superintendent Dr. Antonio Shelton through Let's Talk with any questions.