From Climate Action Santa Monica Advisor and SMMUSD Science Instructor Benjamin Kay:
We are pushing for greater sustainability within SMMUSD. We need our schools and students to become more environmentally, economically, and socially aware and responsible.
Thursday, May 18, 6:30pm to 8:30pm

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District
1651 16th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90404

Our GROWING coalition is meeting this Thursday, May 18th at the SMMUSD District Office, and we need everyone and the family dog to attend!

If you can’t make it, please email a support letter to give to the Board of Education and district. Send it to Ben Kay at

It was learned from a meeting with the superintendent that item, “D.01 Sustainability Review and Planning,” has been added as a discussion item to the Board of Education meeting agenda. This means the public will be allowed to speak on the issue without being constrained to a 30-min general comment period.

“Walk the Talk and Commit to Creating a Sustainable School District”

1. Add sustainability to the SMMUSD mission statement, shared vision statement, and institutional learning outcomes statement
(Rationale: if it’s not stated in the mission, it’s not a priority. Many other districts and SMC have had this in place for years, so why not SMMUSD?!)

2. Hire an experienced, full-time Sustainability Director to manage and coordinate sustainability efforts across the district and across all areas of district oversight
(educational curriculum, teacher professional development, purchasing of goods and foods, facilities and operations = maintenance, architecture and retrofits, etc.)

3. Develop an all-stakeholders sustainability committee (open to students, parents, administrators, district staff, city and college reps, non-profit experts, and SM residents)
that would work with the Sustainability Director to advise the Board of Education on the development and execution of a sustainability plan
for our school district and move us toward a US and California recognized Green Ribbon School District.

4. Adopt a formal resolution, or other binding agreement, thereby committing the SMMUSD to the above three goals.

Public testimony on this item will start somewhere between 6:30pm and 7pm, NOT 5:30pm at the district office. (Ben plans to arrive at 6:15pm.)
Community member speeches followed by board member discussion on D.01 will likely last until about 8:15pm.

PLEASE attend even if you do not wish to speak. Every individual who shows up makes an impact!

Wear a blue or green shirt (or that of your favorite non-profit) + bring note card or cell phone notes with your 1-minute speech.

Normally, individuals get 3 min per person when testifying, however, because we anticipate dozens of people coming, the Board of Education will likely shorten the speaking time to 1 or 2 mins per person.
Share your passion, personal experiences, data, and sustainability vision.
Showing frustration is fine, but consider ending on a positive or encouraging note. Humor is always well received.
Bringing handouts with evidence (photos or data) and/or small signs with messages are both good.

Students may wish to share firsthand observations or data about what their school is doing well or not so well with respect to sustainability and how they want their school/district to change.

Parents may wish to share why it’s important to move our schools in this direction without delay, especially with respect to what’s happening in the real world.

Non-profits, college, and city reps may wish to pledge the ways they may be able to support the district.

No planet = no classroom.
People are dying. Our Earth is warming, Seas are acidifying. Natural resources are vanishing. Pollution is spreading. iInequity is skyrocketing. The People with the least are increasingly marginalized.

Five years ago, August 15, 2012, the Board of Education supported the recommendation of Virginia Hyatt (former district staff member) to form a sustainability committee that would advise the Board of Education on the development and execution of a district sustainability plan. Not only did this not happen, most of the Board’s recommendations to district staff were never pursued.

After probing deeper into the reasons for inaction, we have concluded that the setback is due to LOTS of political barbwire, a lack of interest to prioritize sustainability, and a lack of understanding about the benefits of sustainability education and green schools.

SMC and many other regional school districts are pushing the envelope with sustainability, and in doing so, are seeing increases in attendance, student engagement, achievement, graduations rates, and staff and student well-being and harmony. The district’s priorities can be met through sustainability education!

Hope to see you Thursday, and thank you for standing in solidarity with the many students who will be testifying!

Sustainably yours,

Benjamin Kay
Science Instructor and Team Marine Coach
Santa Monica High School & Santa Monica College
310.395.3204 x71215

Leave a Reply