School District Reorganizations Win Handily : The breakup of South Bay Union High School District is approved. But a proposition moving control of two schools from Los Angeles to Rancho Palos Verdes is blocked by a judge.


Two ballot measures designed to make school officials more accountable to parents won South Bay voters’ approval Tuesday, but a court order has rendered one of the propositions a virtual straw poll.

Proposition V, which dissolves the South Bay Union High School District and creates separate kindergarten-through-12th-grade districts in Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach, was approved by 59.1% of voters in the cities of Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach. The dissolution of the high school district is expected to be complete by July.

Proposition Z, which transfers two schools in the Eastview community of Rancho Palos Verdes from the Los Angeles Unified School District to the Palos Verdes Union Peninsula School District, won by an overwhelming 84.5%.


The transfer, however, has been blocked by a court order that prevents election authorities from certifying the results. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephen E. O’Neil issued the order out of concern that not enough people with a stake in the issue were allowed to vote on the plan.

But Eastview residents, who argue that the transfer will allow them to become “full-fledged citizens” of the peninsula, have asked a higher court to overturn O’Neil’s order.

“Not being able to certify the results is unjust,” said Craig Kelford II, co-chair of Residents for Unified Local Education, which is lobbying for secession. “We’re certainly not going to give up.”

Although the two measures differ significantly, they both address parents’ concerns about the quality of their children’s education. And voter support of measures to reorganize the districts reflect how disillusioned many parents have become with the status quo.

“Parents want the best for their kids and they want to feel that the employees that provide an education to their children are responsive to their needs,” said Byron Burgess, a former Manhattan Beach City School District administrator who lobbied on behalf of Proposition V. “They want a feeling (that) the school . . . will listen and that it will invite their participation and involvement.”

Proponents of Proposition V, also known as split unification, say the smaller size of the new districts will make administrators more responsive and accountable to parents.

The measure dissolves the high school district and transfers its properties to the elementary districts in Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach. Mira Costa High and Pacific Shores Continuation School will both become part of the newly created Manhattan Beach Unified School District, while Redondo Union High and another school site currently under lease will become part of the Redondo Beach Unified School District.

The Hermosa Beach City School District remains an elementary district, but parents will be able to send their high-school-age children to either high school.

Supporters of the plan said they are elated by the measure’s victory--especially since three previous attempts to reorganize the school districts had failed since 1964.

“We are just absolutely delighted,” Pat Collins, former Manhattan Beach mayor and co-chair of the Manhattan Beach Unification Committee, said Wednesday. “It’s a long time coming and I think the important thing is what’s best for the kids and what’s best for the schools.”

Opponents, who argued that the plan would actually harm some parents and children, were not surprised that the measure passed, given the high level of support it enjoyed among elementary district trustees, city officials and PTAs.

“I’m disappointed we’re on the losing end but I feel pretty good that we got as many votes as we did considering how limited we were on being able to get to the public,” said Joseph Mark, a South Bay district trustee.

He believes that the smaller size of the new school districts will give trustees less flexibility with teacher assignments and will mean fewer course offerings.

Those issues may claim greater importance as the newly elected school boards open negotiations to divide the high school district’s assets and debts.

County education officials have recommended a 60-40 split, favoring the larger Redondo Beach Unified School District. But now that attendance at Mira Costa High has slightly outpaced that at Redondo Union, trustees will have to agree to an asset distribution plan that both new districts consider equitable.

South Bay School Board Race Victors Manhattan Beach Unified School District

Kathy Campbell, 50, graduate student and former teacher

Gary Collins, 54, business manager for a South Bay aerospace company

Barbara J. Dunsmoor, 48, graduate student and former teacher

Bernard (Bud) O’Connor, 53, attorney

Mary Rogers, 49, auto repair business manager

Redondo Beach Unified School District

L. Jeanette Boston, 46, secretary

Valerie (Val) Dombrowski, 57, retired businesswoman

Tom Downs, retired chiropractor and construction worker

Rebecca (Becky) Sargent, 46, paralegal

Bart Swanson, 41, supervisor, Lawndale Community Safety Department

Note: All of the trustees elected Tuesday, except Boston, currently serve on the boards of elementary or high school districts in their communities. Collins, Dunsmoor, O’Connor and Rogers are trustees for the K-8 Manhattan Beach City School District; Dombrowski, Sargent and Swanson are trustees for the K-8 Redondo Beach City School District; Campbell and Downs both hold seats on the board of trustees of the South Bay Union High School District. All nine of those trustees will wear two hats until the reorganization plan is completed in July, 1993.