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MBUSD Welcomes Students Back for First Day Of School

Aug 24, 2017 09:12AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Clockwise from top left: Mira Costa Principal Ben Dale, Mira Costa Vice Principal Jessica Bledsoe, MBUSD Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Brian Lucas, Pacific Elementary Principal Rhonda Steinberg, Pennekamp Principal Karina Gerger.

Summer's out, and school is in: Wednesday marked "back to school" day for the approximately 6,700 students in the Manhattan Beach Unified School District.

At Mira Costa High School, incoming Mustangs were greeted by Principal Ben Dale holding - what else? - a stuffed mustang. The district also shared a picture of new Vice Principal Jessica Bledsoe - one of three new vice principals at Mira Costa - taking on the task of managing more than 15,000 sections among the school's 2,600+ students with apparent ease.

At Manhattan Beach MIddle School, students were asked to write their hopes for the new school year on a giant blackboard when they arrived. "Get good grades" and "Have a good time" were among the most popular responses.

New this year at the elementary schools are Principals Karina Gerger at Pennekamp Elementary School and Michelle Krzmarzick at Meadows Elementary School. Also the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation (MBEF) has funded a new assistant principal position to be shared between Pacific Elementary School and Grand View Elementary School.

Other new positions to be funded by MBEF this year include elementary MakerSpace assistants; a 50% certificated music teacher for grades 1 and 2 that will then enable a new "wheel" option for music choices in 3rd grade; and a 20% Algebra I Coach, 20% Geometry Coach, and 20% Algebra II Coach at Mira Costa High School to provide focused coaching/support that allows teachers to strengthen skills without leaving their classrooms.

Additionally, starting this year, the kindergarten school day will be extended from the previous half-day format by about two hours to include lunch.

Meanwhile, MBUSD Superintendent Mike Matthews made the rounds to the various schools. "I am grateful for all of our employees who worked through the summer preparing our schools, hiring new employees, making our budgets work, and generally getting ready for the year," Matthews wrote in a letter to parents. "I am fully confident [that students] are returning to an outstanding educational experience with more personalization and support than ever before."

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