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Manhattan Beach Education Foundation Sends Out SOS

Jan 09, 2021 08:27AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
The Manhattan Beach Education Foundation (MBEF) is sending out an "SOS" to the community for its annual appeal.

Unless it can raise an additional $2 million by February 5, MBEF is warning that cuts will need to be made in the programs that it supports at Manhattan Beach schools in 2021/22.

Many families are facing significant challenges to financial security, physical health, and emotional well-being this year, said Hilary Mahan, executive director of MBEF. Unfortunately, she added, this means that MBEF is also seeing a decrease in support at a time when that support is needed more than ever.

"It is my hope that when we begin the 2021/22 school year, our Manhattan Beach students will continue to have the outstanding academic and enrichment opportunities we have come to expect – opportunities through MBEF funded programs like STEM, music, counseling, physical education, science specialists, libraries, and class size reduction," said Mahan. "But with fewer dollars to grant, there will be fewer opportunities."

Without the funds provided by MBEF’s Annual Appeal, those programs and educators supported by MBEF will likely be cut.

A Difficult Year

Mahan acknowledged that it has been a difficult year for fundraising for MBEF. There has been a decrease in enrollment, which means fewer families, she said. But there is also a frustration among families about children not being in school, and a sense of "Why are we fundraising for school activities?"

Mahan noted two things: One, that the current annual appeal is for the 2021/22 school year; and two, that the MBEF grants to Manhattan Beach schools for 2020/2021 are still being used this year, albeit being delivered virtually (including science, physical education, STEM, and more). 

"I get it. I understand. This is a year that is not ideal for our students, our educators, or our parents and families," she said. "However, when we return to school in person, it’s MBEF’s hope that we’ll be able to provide that robust curriculum that are students are used to having, and that their parents expect."

MBEF And Endowment Provide Critical Funding

MBEF and its endowment continue to play critical roles in supplementing the inadequate state funding for Manhattan Beach schools.

Due to California's revenue limit funding formula - and due to the fact that Manhattan Beach students do not qualify for supplemental funding through the state's Local Control Funding Formula - Manhattan Beach schools receive roughly $10,500 per pupil, putting the district's funding level at among the lowest in the state and in the country.

For 2020/21, MBEF increased its support by over 15%, providing $7.5 million for programs and educators districtwide.

As DigMB reported last month, the MBEF Endowment has surpassed the $20 million mark, which means that under its disbursement policy, the endowment will be able to distribute approximately $1 million annually in perpetuity.

However, because of how an endowment is structured, it is limited in how much it can distribute each year. And as costs go up for the district each year, its needs are greater and that $1 million will not go as far. 

Locally, there has been discussion of another parcel tax. (Manhattan Beach successfully passed Measure MB in 2018. That parcel tax of $225 is scheduled to raise $2.6 million per year over six years for Manhattan Beach schools.)

But long-term structural solutions would need to come from Sacramento, where Manhattan Beach community leaders have routinely gone up to lobby for structural changes that would fix inequities in state per-pupil funding.

"There will always be challenges as long as we have a structural deficit problem in funding for education," said Mahan. “We have learned over time that it’s up to us, our Manhattan Beach community, to take the success of our local schools into our own hands. It would be a shame to let the unfortunate limitations of this year continue into next.”

The Manhattan Beach Unified School District will hold a budget workshop - its first official step in planning for the 2021/22 budget - on January 20.

Editor's note: MBEF is a registered 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. All contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. MBEF’s Tax ID number is 95-3881166.

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