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MBEF Survey Shows Small Class Sizes Are Top Priority

Jan 31, 2015 08:27PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
A survey conducted by the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation (MBEF) has found that both parents and teachers place "Reasonable Class Sizes" as the most important among the foundation's current projects, according to a new report from the foundation. The survey was sent out last summer in an effort to quantify local priorities to ensure that funding priorities match community priorities.

"Though response rates were not as high as we would have liked- 65% of teachers and 34% of parents- the survey trends are statistically significant and can be used to make some solid, data-backed decisions on our grant-making this year," wrote MBEF Executive Director Farnaz Golshani Flechner in a message to foundation supporters this week.

Other current grants and programs that ranked high in the survey were Writing and Literacy programs, Science Labs, P.E., Counselors and Secondary Math. Libraries and music programs were not ranked in the top three for either teachers or parents. "Does this mean that our community is confident in the stability of these grants, or does this mean that these programs no longer align with our community needs? We hope to answer this and other questions through future surveys and focus groups," noted Flechner.

A separate question asked parents and teachers to rank priorities for schools. Consistent across all grade levels, parents ranked (1) Strengthening Academic Programming, (2) Personalizing Education and, (3) Character Development as their top three priorities. Teachers prioritized (1) Character Development, (2) Teaching Social Responsibility and (3) Focus on Teacher Development.

"The alignment of parents and teachers on character development provides our district with a great opportunity," said Flechner, who noted that this spring, MBUSD will receive funding from the Beach Cities Health District to train K-5 teachers on the provision of MindUp, a research-based curriculum and training program to help students focus their attention, improve their self-regulation skills, build resilience to stress, and develop a positive mind-set in both school and life.

When asked, “What additional areas of funding would you like to see MBEF prioritize?”, 78% of parents and 75% of teachers agreed that STEM/ STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math- and A for Arts integration) is their number one priority.

Additionally, a significant majority of parents (86%) and teachers (94%) believe that MBEF funding is extremely important to maintaining the quality of our public schools, and more than 90% are satisfied with MBEF funded programs and grants.

"There is always room for improvement, and we are hopeful that in the coming years through consistent surveys and focus groups we will continue to be responsive to our community’s needs," wrote Flechner. "We are grateful to be an important part of an engaged, generous, and educated community."

MBEF is a volunteer-based, nonprofit organization that raises money to improve and enhance the education provided in Manhattan Beach public schools. Donations made to MBEF during the 2013/14 school year enabled the foundation to grant $5.765 million to the seven Manhattan Beach public schools for the 2014/15 academic year. These grants pay for educators whose positions the school district could not otherwise afford to fund. This year, MBEF paid for 70 educators and specialists, enabling the district to increase per student spending by 10%.

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