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MBEF Rallies for Final Days of Annual Appeal

Feb 09, 2017 09:06AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

MBEF pays for music teachers in Manhattan Beach schools

As the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation's 2016/17 Annual Appeal draws to an end, the organization is reaching out to the community to help close the gap in meeting its $5.2 million fundraising goal.

"We still have approximately $220,000 to raise so that we can continue all of our MBEF funded programs from last year," said Farnaz Golshani Flechner, executive director of MBEF.  "This includes additional teachers for smaller classes, science, technology, reading and library specialists, PE teachers, electives and zero period classes, teacher leaders focused on social/emotional health, math, reading and writing professional development, music teachers, and more."

Donations to MBEF’s Annual Appeal are used to make grants to the Manhattan Beach Unified School District to pay for teachers and educators at the district's seven schools. The grants, over $5 million annually, amount to approximately 10 percent of the school district’s budget and pay for more than 70 educators. (A full list of grants is available here.)

MBUSD Superintendent Mike Matthews noted that the district is a "state and national leader" despite the fact that California is one of the lowest-funded states in the country, and Manhattan Beach is the 6th-lowest funded district in California. "We overcome those obstacles in large part due to the annual support from MBEF," he said in a note to parents.

MBEF’s Annual Appeal is the organization's most important fundraising campaign, primarily directed at parents of MBUSD students. The appeal begins in late August as the school year gets underway and runs through January or February each year. This year's campaign ends on February 10.

While PTAs also raise money at each individual school, MBEF uses its resources primarily to pay for teachers and the PTAs pay for material resources. So for example, while MBEF pays for librarians, PTA pays for library books; and while MBEF pays for science specialists to teach hands-on science, the PTAs pay for supplies for the science lab.

California School Funding Background

Why do the Manhattan Beach schools need supplemental funding from a foundation? To understand the need for MBEF, it is important to know how education funding works in California.

First, the formula to allocate property tax dollars is based on spending levels in the 1970s. At that time, MBUSD was a K-8 district and allocated a small portion of property taxes to schools. As a result, MBUSD is a “Revenue Limit” district and does not retain property taxes. “Basic Aid” districts, such as Palo Alto and Beverly Hills, funded education at a higher level in the 70s, so they retain excess property taxes.

Second, unlike other highly ranked districts, Manhattan Beach does not have a parcel tax that subsidizes state funding. A parcel tax is generally a flat tax assessed per parcel for ongoing educational expenses, such as teachers and enrichment. Bond measures, like the recently passed measures C and EE, pay for facilities. Many other high-performing districts have education foundations that provide anywhere from $1M-$6M of funding each year, in addition to their parcel tax revenue.

Third, the amount of funding that 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 received about $7,500 per pupil from the state, compared with a statewide average of over $9,000. By comparison, the states with the highest per-pupil allotments spend upwards of $20,000 per student.

Unlike other states where counties decide how much to allocate to education, in California, per pupil funding is determined at the state level. Manhattan Beach schools only receive a small portion of that funding – not nearly sufficient for a high-quality education, which is why MBEF plays such a critical role.

To give to MBEF, click here to give today. To find out if you have already given for this year, click here.

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