Letters to Community

Making Public Education A Community Priority

Steering Committee
Rebecca Kennerly, Chair
Colleen O’Beirne Brydon
Keryl Cartee McNeely
Lauri Crane
Shari Davis
Dr. Michael E. Gruning
Chris Harding
Harry M. Keiley
Richard McKinnon
Debbie Mulvaney
Maria Rodriguez
Laura Rosenbaum
Sandy Thacker
Nathaniel Trives
Ted Winterer
Denny Zane

Ex officio:
Louise Jaffe
Barry Snell

Executive Committee:
Lauri Crane
Shari Davis
Dr. Mike Gruning
Chris Harding
Rebecca Kennerly
Laura Rosenbaum
Denny Zane
Dear Friend of Public Education,

For nearly a decade Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS) has worked to promote and support public education in Santa Monica and Malibu. We’ve had many tangible successes in our efforts to “promote a shared community vision for excellence in our public schools”. These successes have had a positive impact in both our schools and our communities.

Yet today the need for vigilance and advocacy to protect the excellent public schools in Santa Monica and Malibu has never been greater.

Headlines tell the bleak story;

“Seismic education layoffs hits California school districts”
–San Francisco Examiner, February 24, 2009
“LAUSD cancels bulk of summer school programs”
–Los Angeles Times, May 28, 2009
“Teachers start hunger strike to protest layoffs”
–Los Angeles Times, May 27, 2009
“Public Education devastated by California budget cuts”
–wsws.org, June 2009

Now, as the 2008-2009 school year comes to a close BEFORE the State of California finalizes its budget for that same year, the threat to our own local public schools could not be greater.

SMMUSD has already cut $4.5M, (approximately 4%) from its budget for 2009-2010, but even with these cuts, more than TWICE that amount will need to be cut again within the next two years to respond to ever-worsening State budget cuts.

Santa Monica and Malibu cannot afford to allow the State’s budget crisis to push our schools to the substandard level of so many of our neighboring communities. Our cities rely upon our schools remaining excellent. And the difference that allows our schools to maintain their excellence is local funding.

The work of so many dedicated education supporters and activists has made this local funding possible. We thank you and ask for your continued commitment. We need it now more than ever.

While CEPS cannot overstate the importance of local funding for our schools, we also know that the real funding crisis, not only for our schools, but for school up and down the state of California lies in Sacramento.

The work ahead is clear; to continue to advocate for the funding and quality our schools need for excellence – both at the local and state level.

CEPS will need to work harder than ever in the 2009-2010 school year, and we need your help!

  • Consider volunteering. CEPS needs involvement from members of all of Santa Monica and Malibu’s communities.
  • Take a moment today to join Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS). Your one-year membership starts at $25. It will make a substantial contribution to our ongoing work.
  • And finally, make a contribution. Every contribution over your annual membership will allow CEPS to do its work more effectively.

You can do all three at www.excellentpublicschools.org

CEPS knows that every cut our schools take to respond to the State budget reductions, will take twice the effort and money to reinstate. Santa Monica and Malibu can’t let California’s budget crisis erode the quality of our schools.

I hope to hear from each of you as we fight together to protect public education in Santa Monica and Malibu.

Yours for excellent public schools,
Rebecca Kennerly, Chair


  • Led the fight for a series of local funding and measures, supported by over two-thirds of Santa Monica and Malibu voters, which now provide more than $11M per year to SMMUSD schools
  • Spearheaded 2004’s “Excellent Public Schools Charter Amendment” which created the successful Joint Use Agreement between SMMUSD and the City of Santa Monica. This agreement now provides more than $7M per year of reliable, ongoing education funding, and was renewed earlier this year.
  • Led the fight for Measure BB, a facilities bond allowing SMMUSD to start rebuilding our schools.
  • Evaluated and endorsed candidates for public office in Santa Monica and Malibu. CEPS informs voters about candidates record on public education.
  • Initiated 2005’s “Caravan for Kids” (executed jointly with the California State PTA), a two-day, statewide protest against education funding cuts, culminating in a major rally on the steps of the State Capitol.
  • Provides annual reports to our parents and communities about SMMUSD schools. This is achieved in partnership with PTA and SMMUSD leadership through the annual “State of Our Schools” event.

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