CEPS Candidate Interview Questions – CITY COUNCIL - 2012
Shari Davis is the former Chair and Co-Chair of Community for Excellent Public Schools and President of the Santa Monica Malibu Council of PTAs. She is running for her first term on the Santa Monica 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?
Co-Chairing CEPS with Louise Jaffe from 2002 to 2006; Chairing CEPS from 2006 to 2009; and Co-Chairing CEPS with Rebecca Kennerly from 2011 to 2012, I have had the amazing opportunity to be a true champion of our public schools.
It has been the experience of a lifetime and a great honor, working with this inspiring group of community leaders, effecting the changes we have accomplished together. We showed that grass roots activism truly can make a difference, tangibly and intangibly.
The positive impacts of CEPS’ efforts go well beyond the $25 million in annual revenue being generated locally for our schools and $6 million annually for the City of Santa Monica. We have fostered a culture change in our community that will have very long-lasting benefits for children now and for generations to come.
I am very proud to have played such a key leadership role, but I also know that it could not have happened without the synergistic, intelligent, dedicated, bold work of this entire organization. Thank you all!!
Describe how you feel that excellent public schools benefit a city.
It is summed up best in CEPS’ simple tag line:
Strong schools=Strong community.
RAND says it with statistics and cost benefit analysis. Excellent public schools give individuals dramatic, long-term, lifetime income boosts, bring people together as a community, make the community safer and healthier, keep property values higher and generate more municipal revenue for cities to provide better services to their citizens.
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?
Proposing an amendment to the Santa Monica City Charter that created a funding formula to share the resources of a prosperous City with its financially struggling public schools, was truly unique, groundbreaking and, to my knowledge, has yet to be replicated. The results speak for themselves, as, without CEPS’ advocacy efforts with the City, SMMUSD would not have $14 million in annual revenue that it currently has.
We have fostered a collaborative relationship between SMMUSD and the City of Santa Monica (as well as SMC), that was truly unthinkable nine years ago.
The allocation (unfortunately absconded by the State) of $57 million in RDA funding for the Civic Center Joint Use Project would not have happened without the relationship that developed. Propositions Y and YY would not have happened. And the current makeup of the City Council, with at least four members who are supporters of education, would not exist.
Having a City Manager and a Superintendent who consider it a given that they meet regularly and discuss opportunities for collaboration to support education and ways to meet community needs, may even be a byproduct of CEPS’ advocacy.
With the many services that our students and their families rely upon from our schools and our City, we have many more ways to explore delivering and expanding those services to better meet their needs and make our community even stronger. In particular, I will be a strong voice for continuing the Master Facilities Use Agreements, implementing the Cradle to Career Initiative, exploring ways to expand early childhood and preschool programs that help children be ready to learn, protecting the services currently provided by the City at our school sites, and looking for ways to provide lifelong learning opportunities and access to health care, recreation, cultural programs and other services for the broader community at our campuses.
I look forward to partnering with Mayor Pro Tem Gleam Davis as pro-education City Council members who think creatively about solving problems, addressing financial dilemmas and doing even more to serve the families of Santa Monica with model programs based on collaboration between the City, SMMUSD and SMC.
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?
I support both Propositions 30 and 38. If both measures fail, our schools will experience devastating cuts. The School Board faces the terrible reality of eliminating teaching positions, counselors, nurses, athletic programs, music and arts education, and basic maintenance of our school facilities. Slashing these basic components of education will have extremely deleterious consequences in the short term as well as the long term.
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”?
As former Co-Chair of CEPS, I would of course be a champion of searching for creative solutions that would avert the disastrous effects of state funding cuts to education.
The best approach I know if Props. 30 and 38 fail, is to meet with CEPS Steering Committee members and brainstorm ways the City might help the schools. I would invite City Manager Gould and Superintendent Lyon into the conversation and push for candid assessments of the financial situation. Will the District pursue a parcel tax, and if so, how could the City help? Would reserves be available? Are one-time funds a possibility? Are there services the City could fund that would free up SMMUSD finances? Is there a role the City could play in fundraising?
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 strongly support Measure ES and will urge voters to vote Yes on ES on my campaign literature and in my speeches and other campaign activities.
Would you support sharing new revenues with local schools and if so, do you have any ideas about how to raise new revenues?
I am a strong proponent of strategically creating revenue streams that could benefit vital City services and programs and school services and programs. Y+YY, TOT and UUT are all examples. We should brainstorm what others might be, particularly in the realm of capital needs.
Taking a longer view, what other areas of mutual support might you promote between the schools and Santa Monica’s city government?
More collaboration and communication amongst SMMUSD, SMC, the City of Santa Monica and the City of Malibu would be beneficial to all the entities and the constituents they serve. I look forward to being a catalyst to make it happen.
In addition to the specific examples I mentioned in Question 3 — the Master Facilities Use Agreements, Cradle to Career Initiative, exploring ways to expand early childhood and preschool programs that help children be ready to learn, protecting the services provided by the City at our school sites currently, and looking for ways to provide lifelong learning opportunities and access to health care, recreation, cultural programs and other services for the broader community at our campuses -– other areas I want to explore include:
- Helping to make the CCJUP proposed projects happen at Santa Monica High School in the wake of Redevelopment dissolution, and working together on scheduling and programming in the facilities.
- Seeking funding and designing a model program to reach out to pregnant women and parents of newborns and infants to provide them support and information about brain development and how parenting techniques can positively impact their children’s long term growth, educational success and lifetime potential.
- Ensuring that the Bike Action Plan and other transportation policies, including Big Blue Bus fares and routes, are including and taking into consideration the student and family populations as they are implemented and marketed.
- Continuing the emphasis on Buy Local for Our Schools.
- Sharing best practices in environmentally conscious approaches to construction, facilities maintenance, landscaping, energy conservation, solar energy and water conservation.
- Fostering joint programming and curriculum tie-ins between our libraries and our schools.
- Continuing the positive relationship between our schools and the Santa Monica Police Department, and seeking even more ways to reinforce community policing approaches to crime prevention, drug abuse prevention, and safe driving with our student population.
- Helping student groups as they seek funds to travel and represent our community in a multitude of worthy competitions and exhibitions.
- Continuing to collaborate with the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation as its new role develops.
I would not be running for City Council were it not for CEPS. I truly believe in the Mission Statement, and pursuing it as a City Council Member would further the original vision in a profound way.
I humbly ask for CEPS’ endorsement. It will be the endorsement that means the most to me. If I am endorsed and subsequently elected, I will certainly continue to occupy a seat at the table for Steering Committee meetings, assuming you will have me!