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Manhattan Beach Schools Facing Budget Challenges

Jan 16, 2020 10:30AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
Although the Manhattan Beach Unified School District is one of the top school districts in the state, it is also the second-lowest funded K-12 district in California. Now, with new budget challenges ahead, the district is potentially looking at 30 layoffs for the 2020/2021 school year.

As one of the largest employers in Manhattan Beach, MBUSD has an $88 million budget with 830 employees serving 6,500 students.

A series of factors have contributed to the financial crunch, according to MBUSD Superintendent Mike Matthews. Those factors include, but are not limited to:
  • Declining enrollment has resulted in less support from the state. MBUSD enrollment has decreased by 400 students since 2013-14;
  • Personnel costs have been increasing. MBUSD contributions toward employee pension costs have quadrupled, going from $2.9M a year in 2011-12 to $12.2M in the 2019-20 school year (employees are also paying more out of their paychecks for pensions);
  • Special education cost increases have outpaced revenue increases. MBUSD currently receives $6.4 million in special education funding, while expenditures total $24 million.
MBUSD reserves have steadily declined from 28% of the general fund in 2011 to less than the required 3% next year unless the district carries out $3 million in reductions this year and more in future years. The $3 million is equivalent to 30 layoffs.

Manhattan Beach approved a parcel tax known as Measure MB in 2018. The revenue from that measure appears to have held off the need for deeper cuts until now.

"Without Measure MB we would have made cuts two years ago, and we would be making much more severe reductions now," said Matthews.

The school board held a budget workshop this week to discuss budget challenges and potential solutions.

The board will continue to discuss the issue in meetings on February 5 and 26. A board meeting is tentatively scheduled for March 4 to discuss areas for reduction. The state of California has a March 15 deadline for providing preliminary certificated layoff notices.

In the meantime, families are urged to contribute to Manhattan Beach Education Foundation, which has a suggested donation of $1750 per student this year.

MBEF grants more than $6 million each year to MBUSD, accounting for approximately 8 percent of the district's budget.

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