San Marino Unified School District (SMUSD) is the top performing unified school district among all unified school districts in the State of California, for over 15 years, based on annual state testing. All of our schools are recognized as National Blue Ribbon schools, which is the highest award any school can receive in the nation. Every SMUSD school is also recognized as a California Distinguished School.
2. What challenges are facing our schools?
All SMUSD schools were built between 1918 and 1956, and while many of them were renovated about 20 years ago, our schools now need further updates to keep up with 21st-century technology. Many classrooms and facilities require essential repairs and safety improvements, including security, water conservation, electrical updates, and heating and air conditioning systems.
For example, a 60-year old pipe recently broke in one of our elementary schools, causing it to be closed for two days while critical repairs were completed. Additionally, some schools suffer from power outages causing disruption to the school day.
Our students have proven themselves to be the best in the State again and again, and safe, secure, high-quality, and up-to-date facilities are required to support our continued achievement in academics, arts, and athletics.
3. How does SMUSD plan to address these challenges?
A Facilities Needs Assessment was completed in 2015. The District is currently in the process of updating its facilities plan to set the vision for assessing programs and prioritizing the District’s capital facilities needs.
4. How would facility repairs and upgrades be funded?
School districts have very limited options in seeking additional funding and rely on the State for almost all resources. The State does not provide adequate funding to maintain and upgrade our facilities. As the State no longer provides separate deferred maintenance funds, repairs are made out of the general fund that would otherwise be spent on educational programs. If the District could secure local funding, it would protect and enhance the quality of SMUSD schools’ facilities.
5. How will SMUSD prioritize projects and what criteria will be used?
The Superintendent has presented key needs identified in the Facility Needs Assessment, and priorities will be established by the Board. The San Marino community’s input is highly valued as SMUSD works to ensure that facilities are updated for continued academic excellence and to maintain the values of our community.
6. What specific projects would be planned?
7. Does SMUSD have other options for funding these facilities repairs?
SMUSD has very few options when it comes to making the necessary repairs and updates to our local schools. We can’t rely on the State to complete the necessary repairs to maintain the best education for our students. In tandem with the facilities planning process, SMUSD will continue to seek out and evaluate the availability of additional funding from state, federal, and local sources to meet its capital facilities improvement needs. Local funding could make necessary repairs and upgrades. The District is qualified to receive state matching funds under Prop. 51 that would otherwise go to other communities.
8. How do I know the funds would be spent wisely?
The plan to protect the quality of SMUSD schools would include protections to ensure funds are spent appropriately. All funds would stay in the District and could not be taken away by the State. None of the funds would be spent on administrator salaries. An independent citizens’ oversight committee would ensure the funds are spent on approved projects that were included in the project list. An annual audit would be performed until all of the proceeds are expended.
9. Doesn’t the San Marino Schools Foundation cover this kind of cost?
While the San Marino Schools Foundation and PTAs/PTSA provide millions of dollars to our schools each year, those funds go to support programs and instructional salaries that are not adequately funded by the State. These donated funds do not support our facilities needs. The funding needed to repair our facilities is beyond the scope of funding received from the San Marino Schools Foundation, parcel taxes, and SMUSD’s operating budget. SMUSD needs an additional source of funds to make necessary improvements to our schools to provide a 21stcentury learning environment, and to continue to serve our students and our community into the future.
10. Have neighboring districts passed similar measures recently?
Yes. Multiple school districts in our area have passed bond measures to meet local funding needs. As neighboring high-performing districts continue to invest in their facilities, SMUSD must also keep its facilities up-to-date to maintain its high-quality schools.
11. How can I find out more?
We welcome your input as we work to ensure our schools are updated to continue providing a top-notch education. For more information or to provide feedback, please contact the District office at (626) 299-7000 or email@example.com.