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MBEF Sounds Alarm on Annual Appeal

Feb 09, 2016 01:43PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
As the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation (MBEF)'s Annual Appeal comes to a close this week, fundraisers are asking parents and community members to step up as contributions lag by $600,000.

"While participation rates are in line with previous years, we’ve seen a drop in donation amounts," said MBEF Executive Director Farnaz Flechner in a note to supporters. "As a result, we are currently $600,000 behind our goal for this year. If we are unable to meet our goal, we are at risk of decreasing our funding to the district, and we could be forced to cut programs in the 2016/17 school year."

MBEF’s Annual Appeal is the organization's most important fundraising campaign. The foundation is asking for a recommended donation amount of $1,500 per student, or whatever a family can give.

Last year, MBEF allocated grants to the Manhattan Beach schools for the 2015/16 school year totaling more than $6 million. The funding from MBEF increased per-student spending by 9 percent throughout the Manhattan Beach Unified School District, and paid for 71 educators in Manhattan Beach schools.

The 2015/16 grant total marked a more than 4 percent increase over the previous year's total of $5.765 million, and represented the highest total to date in MBEF's history.

With the 2015/16 funding, MBEF allocated $1 million in district-wide grants for new initiatives such as data evaluation and program assessment, innovation grants to teachers, STEM - Project Lead The Way, and stipends for teachers who were named Teacher of the Year. It also included larger amounts for returning programs such as music teachers and professional development through UCLA Center X Math.

Grants to elementary schools totaled $1.94 million, including new funding for implementation of the MindUP program (a social/emotional learning curricululm) and increased funding for physical education teachers.

Middle school grants totaled more than $1 million, with new funding for professional development in science and math and additional STEM classes.

For the high school, grants of over $2 million included new funding for professional development for counselors and increased funding for guidance and academic support counselors.

Unlike other states where education funding is determined locally, in California, per pupil funding is determined at the state level. In the 1980s, Proposition 13 and legal rulings limited a community’s ability to tax its residents to pay for schools. This city's property taxes, high as they are, no longer stay in Manhattan Beach.

The amount of funding MBUSD receives from the state has decreased substantially over the years and is currently impacted by the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). Through LCFF, all districts receive a base level of funding per student and supplemental funding per student for districts with large numbers of high-need students (low-income youth, English Learners and foster youth). In 2015/16, MBUSD is receiving about $7,500 per pupil from the state, compared with a statewide average of over $9,000. By comparison, according to MBEF, the states with the highest per-pupil allotments spend upwards of $20,000 per student.

Additionally, MBUSD is the only top unified school district in California without a parcel tax, utility tax, or both, to supplement state funding. In comparison, among other top-performing California school districts, San Marino received nearly $5.6 million in revenue from a parcel tax, Palo Alto received $11.9 million, and Palos Verdes received $7.5 million. Instead the Manhattan Beach public schools rely on the support of MBEF to fill the gap.

Prospective donors are urged to give here or make a pledge to be paid by June 30.

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