CEPS Candidate Interview Questions – CITY COUNCIL — Election 2012
Richard McKinnon is a Santa Monica Planning Commissioner and is running for his first term on the City Council.
CEPS is grateful that our work to “promote a shared community vision” to support public education has been so strongly supported within our community. What have you done, personally, to show that you are more than a supporter of public schools, and that in these times of adversity, our community can count on you to be a “champion” of public schools?
Over the last twelve years as either Chair of the Roosevelt, Lincoln and Samohi Governance and Site Councils; Chair of the joint PTA – SMMUSD World Class Public Schools Campaign, a member of the PTA executive for years, member and supporter of parcel and funding measures, part of the Samohi coalition leadership that won 57 million dollars from RDA funding, part of the CEPS and LEAD executive committee; and in every forum possible both private and public including School Board and City Council meetings, I have argued that Public Schools are the absolute bedrock of our community and we must support them financially to guarantee their and our success.
In the last year as a member for the Planning Commission I have advocated in Commission meetings week after week on development issues that schools and students must be supported as part of the process. Almost always over the strenuous objections of the developers and their supporters.
Describe how you feel that excellent public schools benefit a city.
Schools are the foundation of a society. Schools link and support a Community and City. California was at its strongest when we had a powerful supported system of public education from universities to schools. When schools are strong, the whole community is strong, both socially and economically. Santa Monica needs great schools.
Santa Monica’s City government has a unique relationship with its schools and its education community. Please explain what you think is unique about that role. What is your understanding of ways that the education community and city leadership work together and support each other? What would you do to protect and strengthen that reciprocal role along with the direct funding support that the city provides to the schools?
The City of Santa Monica financially supports the School District. This is what should happen. Maybe it’s unusual in California. It shouldn’t be. The issue is how the City can continue its support through joint use arrangements and creative financing to ensure schools remain strong. I proposed a joint School Board-City Council meeting to city official last year to discuss youth and education issues that affect both bodies. This will occur if I am on Council. It will be a starting point for closer deeper and more useful cooperation on public policy issues and outcomes.
State funding cuts to education and local cities are hurting both entities. However, it is safe to say that education has taken the greater hit. What do you know about Propositions 30 & 38 on the November ballot? What is your position on these measures? What is your understanding of the impact on our local public schools should both measures fail?
One of the propositions must pass to simply maintain an already bad situation in school funding. Either fails and SMMUSD is in crisis. Teachers will be fired, class sizes increase, the whole financial basis of the District becomes shaky.
Should both ballot measures fail, do you feel that the City could have a further role in supporting our schools? If so, what might you propose – and “champion”?
Yes. Santa Monica must not allow its school system to fall apart because the State of California is in a spiral downwards on good government and basic civic responsibility. Either a further extension of the sales tax increase, another parcel tax ballot measure, more joint use agreements must be considered. And certainly, bedrock support of an revenue ballot measure from the school community.
What is your position on SMMUSD’s bond measure, also on November’s ballot? If you support the measure would you carry that support on your campaign literature?
I have argued strongly for a Building Bond for a number of years, support the Bond completely and will be showing support on literature
Would you support sharing new revenues with local schools and if so, do you have any ideas about how to raise new revenues?
Yes. Hotel, real estate, parking and sales tax revenues are the logical places to add small school funding slices, adding together to a larger revenue stream. There needs to be a coherent approach to underpinning our schools from our community.
Taking a longer view, what other areas of mutual support might you promote between the schools and Santa Monica’s city government?
- Development agreements should contribute to an endowment fund for life long education for students. (including pre-school)
- More joint use arrangements that open more schools recreation facilities up for the community in general as they contribute revenue to schools.
- Assessment of how we can use schools for the community purposes the City requires; and hence potential joint use arrangements
- Future development of City property in the Civic Center/Memorial park opens the possibility of joint City-School approach to simultanously create recreation facilities and green space.
- Assess the hospitality taxes.
- See 7
- Look at voluntary opt-in contributions for hotel guests.
- Reassess and renegotiate the basket of measures that are the basis of the agreement that funds the schools through the City- School District arrangements.
- Assess on a case by case basis City policies that can jointly support schools as they also support the policy outcomes of the City. Small changes often produce large outcomes.
- Build cooperation between school district and city officials
- Turn Schools into much more open centers for the community in each neighbourhood
- Work on getting Sustainable issues right in schools as part of turning the City Deep Green environmentally