Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What does the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation (MBEF) do?
  2. MBUSD is a public school district. Why do we rely on private donations?
  3. How does Local Control Funding Formula(LCFF) affect MBUSD?
  4. Why do our schools need both MBEF and the PTAs?
  5. How does MBEF raise money?
  6. How will MBEF funding be used in the 2017/18 school year?
  7. How much should I give?
  8. Do you have payment options?
  9. How does MBEF determine which positions and programs to fund?
  10. Can I designate how my donation is used?
  11. How is MBEF governed? Who is responsible for decision-making?
  12. What is the difference between MBEF and the Endowment?
  13. Why don’t we focus on legislative shifts instead of raising funds from the community?
  14. What can we do to change the overall financial situation in our schools?

 

Questions and Answers:


1. WHAT DOES THE MANHATTAN BEACH EDUCATION FOUNDATION (MBEF) DO?

MBEF ensures that every child attending public school in Manhattan Beach has access to programs that inspire learning, enrich teaching, and promote innovation and academic excellence. As a community-driven fundraising organization, MBEF helps fill the gap between state funding and what it costs to provide a well-rounded, high quality education. MBEF funds programs that engage students in learning, spark their creativity, and help them discover their passions. In the 2017/18 school year, MBEF is providing our District with approximately $6 million in funding for critical educators and programs. Click here to read about the programs MBEF is funding this year.


2 MBUSD IS A PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT. WHY DO WE RELY ON PRIVATE DONATIONS?

You have heard again and again that funding for our schools is inadequate. But few people understand WHY. There are four main factors that impact school funding in our District.

State funding for education in California is inadequate. California ranks 44th in the nation in school funding, and 50th in both student-to-teacher and student-to-counselor ratios. While states like New York and New Jersey average over $20,000 per pupil, last year, MBUSD received roughly $9,600 per pupil, putting our funding level at the BOTTOM of the state and the country. Without our community’s investment, state funding for our schools does not meet our students’ needs.

MBUSD is a Revenue Limit District. Only a small portion of our property taxes, high as they are, fund education. 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. Proposition 13 and Assembly Bill 8 set the allotment of property taxes to education so that districts are unable to move additional tax dollars to schools. As a result, MBUSD is a Revenue Limit district and does not retain excess property taxes. Basic Aid districts, such as Palo Alto and Laguna Beach, funded education at a higher level in the 70s, so they retain excess property taxes. Because our property tax allocation is so low, most of the funding for our schools is subsidized by the state.

Our Students Do Not Qualify for Supplemental Funding. In 2013, California implemented Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) to provide additional resources to public school districts with higher numbers of students who qualify for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program, are English Language Learners and/or are foster youth. Of ALL school districts in California, MBUSD has the LOWEST number of students who qualify for supplemental funding.

Manhattan Beach Does Not Have a Parcel Tax. Unlike many highly ranked districts in California, Manhattan Beach does not have a parcel tax to supplement state funding for our schools. A parcel tax is a flat tax assessed per parcel for ongoing educational expenses, such as teachers and enrichment. The districts listed below each have a parcel tax and a community-led foundation, like MBEF, that provides anywhere from $1 million – $6 million of funding each year.

      

MBUSD is frequently compared to a short list of districts throughout California that have strong student outcomes. However, our funding is very different from these districts. For example, as depicted in the Per Pupil Funding chart above, Palo Alto is a Basic Aid district and retains a large portion of their property taxes, and has both a sizeable parcel tax and education foundation. Similarly, Piedmont has a parcel tax that accounts for 25% of their district’s budget, as well as an education foundation. MBEF is the only District-wide resource that funds teachers and enrichment. Your support of MBEF is critical to the quality of our public schools.

At this time, MBEF is the only District-wide resource available to fund teachers and enrichment.


3. HOW DOES THE NEW LOCAL CONTROL FUNDING FORMULA AFFECT MBUSD?

As described above, California implemented Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) in 2013 to (1) give local school districts more authority over how to spend their state funding, (2) restore districts to pre-recession (2007/08) state funding levels- adjusted for inflation, and (3) provide additional resources to public school districts with higher numbers of students.

Under LCFF, districts receive a uniform base per pupil funding for every student that varies by grade level. School districts with higher percentages of students who qualify for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program, are English Language Learners and/or are foster youth receive supplemental funding per pupil. Per the chart below, local districts, wherein 50% or more of students qualify for the above programs, receive as much as $4,200 more, per pupil.  Of ALL school districts in California, MBUSD has the LOWEST number of students who qualify for supplemental funding.

Even with projected funding increases through 2020/21, LCFF is not likely to fulfill its commitment to restoring districts to pre-recession (2007/08) levels of state funding. This is largely because the state has also shifted a large portion of the pension onus onto districts, without increasing base funding accordingly. Even in 2007, when California funding was at its height, state funding was not enough to support the quality of education our community has provided through MBEF.


4. WHY DO OUR SCHOOLS NEED BOTH MBEF AND THE PTA’S?

MBEF and PTAs are vital partners in supporting the success of our schools. MBEF and PTAs collaborate closely to provide a quality K-12 education for all children in our District. MBEF primarily pays for teachers and programs, and the PTAs pay for material resources at each school. While we can thank MBEF for our librarians, PTA pays for library books.  Similarly, MBEF pays for science specialists to teach hands-on science, while the PTAs pay for supplies for the science lab.

PTA presidents from each school sit on the MBEF Board of Directors to provide input on MBEF decision-making. Additionally, each school’s PTA has its own board that raises and spends funds to pay for campus-specific items, such as technology, school supplies, and classroom materials. Because MBEF has a long history of providing a consistent funding stream to our District, it is the only parent organization that LA County Office of Education permits to supplement pay for teachers.

Lastly, each PTA is accountable to its own school, while MBEF provides a K-12 perspective and ensures that every elementary school in our District offers the same programs and quality of education at each grade level. For example, a fifth-grader at Grand View gets the same number of science lab minutes with the science specialist as a fifth grader at Meadows, regardless of each teacher’s salary or the number of fifth grade classes at each school. Our commitment to the community is to ensure that every child in our District has equal access to high-quality educational opportunities.


5. HOW DOES MBEF RAISE MONEY?

Annual Appeal Campaign
MBEF’s Annual Appeal is our most important fundraising campaign, primarily directed at parents of MBUSD students. The Appeal begins in late August as the school year begins and runs through January or February. Last year, parents contributed approximately 71% of the $6+ million raised to support Manhattan Beach public schools. The funds MBEF raises this school year through the Annual Appeal will pay for grants to the District next year.

For the first time in 4 years, we have increased our suggested per-student donation to $1,750 to maintain existing programs and cover cost-of-living increases.

Manhattan Wine Auction
The Manhattan Wine Auction, now in its 24th year, is the largest charity wine auction in Southern California, and raises over $1M annually for MBEF through sponsorships, ticket sales, and silent and live auctions. Hosted at the Manhattan Country Club, the Wine Auction sells out every year with approximately 2,000 guests sampling the best in food and wine in a casual and festive atmosphere. This year’s Wine Auction will be held on Saturday, June 9th, 2018.

Business Sponsorship Program
In 2010, MBEF launched a Business Sponsorship Program that reaches out to small and large businesses in the South Bay and beyond to encourage them to invest in Manhattan Beach Schools. The Business Sponsorship Program currently contributes over $215,000 to MBEF. If you are a South Bay business owner, we would love to have you join our sponsor program. It truly takes a village to support an outstanding public-school system!

Real Estate Partner Program
In Spring 2016, MBEF introduced the Real Estate Partner Program in the South Bay because we know the quality of a school system has a direct impact on a local real estate market. Our Real Estate Partners recognize that our schools attract an affluent, professional buyer looking to settle in a community ideal for families and have partnered with MBEF to support the success of our schools and market themselves to our broad base of well-educated and invested parents. Last year our Partners contributed $60,000 to our schools.

Matching Gift Program
Many companies, big and small, contribute to MBEF through a matching gift program, so they can support the organizations and causes their employees believe in. Last year MBEF received $345,000 from over 80 companies. Please click here to see a list of our current matching gift providers. If you don’t see your employer on this list, please check with your employer to find out if they offer such a program. We are happy to work with you to submit the required paperwork to expedite this process. When MBEF receives a matching gift from your company, both you and the business will be recognized for the match, in our Annual Report and Honor Roll.

MBEF Endowment Fund
The MBEF Endowment was created to protect our schools from the erratic fluctuation of state funding and ensure that our students will benefit from high quality educational programs – now and for generations to come. Patterned after successful university and private school endowments, monies are placed in a fund and invested to generate income on an ongoing basis, while the original investment (principal) remains untouched. Through generous contributions and prudent fiscal management, MBEF’s Endowment has grown to more than $16M and continues to climb. In 2017, the Endowment disbursed $500K to fund MBEF programs for the 2017/18 school year. With continued support from our community, the annual disbursement to our schools will continue to increase.


6. HOW WILL MBEF FUNDING BE USED IN THE 2017/18 SCHOOL YEAR?

MBEF supports and advocates for enrichment programming, and ensures that the funds we grant are appropriately and effectively used. Like other not-for-profit foundations, we are not involved in personnel relations, hiring, or management of District employees. We do not make decisions on the ways in which programs are implemented or the curriculum that the District uses. This is important because it strengthens our voice when we advocate for programming for all students. In addition, this separation helps to maintain the autonomy of the District and its elected School Board and ensures that no individual parents’ voice is more powerful than others.

MBEF’s contribution to the District for the 2017/18 school year exceeds $6 million. This funding pays for 73 educators and increases per-student spending by approximately 9% throughout the District. Your investment in MBEF contributes to smaller class sizes, STEM programs, elementary PE, extra period classes, teacher professional development, librarians, music teachers, academic and guidance counselors, and so much more.

Click here to view 2017/18 MBEF Grants


7HOW MUCH SHOULD I GIVE?

Our goal is to have 100% of the families whose children attend an MBUSD school contribute to MBEF, since all children in the District benefit from MBEF support. We suggest a donation of $1,750  per child, or ask that you consider making a meaningful gift for your family.  Every gift matters and every donor is an important part of this effort.

Corporate matching gift programs are another way to make a significant contribution to MBEF. MBEF is eligible to receive matching gifts from participating companies. Please click here to see a list of our current matching gift providers. If you don’t see your employer on this list, please check with your employer to find out if they offer such a program. We are happy to work with you to submit required paperwork to expedite this process. When MBEF receives a matching gift from your company, both you and the business will be recognized for the match in our Annual Report and Honor Roll.  Last year MBEF received almost $350,000 in matching funds!

If you have a child in our schools, you have the very best reason to donate.


8DO YOU HAVE PAYMENT OPTIONS?

MBEF has several payment options available. Please visit our website or contact the MBEF office to discuss the best option for your family (310-303-3342 / donations@mbef.org).

  • One-time DonationDonate now by check or credit card
  • Pledge – If you want to hold off and make a donation later in the year when the timing is better for your family, you can make a commitment to donate at some point before June 1st. By making a pledge early in the campaign, you can avoid unnecessary reminders from MBEF.
  • Installments — Donations are charged to your credit card automatically on the schedule you select. This could be monthly or on any timeline that works best for you. You can establish an installment plan through our online donation system by indicating your preference on the donation envelope, or by calling the MBEF office.
  • Appreciated Stock – Donation of stock certificates – You can take an immediate tax deduction for the full market value of the stock and avoid the capital-gains tax you would owe by cashing in the securities. Then, using the cash you might have otherwise donated, you can repurchase the same stock at a higher cost basis for capital-gains purposes. Click here for stock donation steps.
  • Matching Gifts – Many companies, big and small, contribute to MBEF through a matching gift program so they can support the organizations and causes their employees believe in. Last year MBEF received $345,000 from over 80 companies. Please click here to see a list of our current matching gift providers. If you don’t see your employer on this list, please check with your employer to find out if they offer such a program. We are happy to work with you to submit the required paperwork to expedite this process. When MBEF receives a matching gift from your company, both you and the business will be recognized for the match in our Annual Report and Honor Roll.
  • Give till’ Graduation – You can make a recurring gift all the way until your child(ren) graduate from Mira Costa.


9. HOW DOES MBEF DETERMINE WHICH POSITIONS AND PROGRAMS TO FUND?

As a community-driven organization, MBEF strives to ensure our grants are reflective of parent and teacher priorities. We welcome feedback and regularly survey our stakeholders to help determine our strategic direction and funding priorities. To ensure continuity in our schools, the vast majority of our funding is committed to grants and positions from previous years. Each year MBEF’s 35 member Board of Directors works with District leadership, school principals, and teachers to identify programs that are most aligned with parent priorities and MBEF Grant Guidelines.

MBEF strives to invest in programs that support the following:

  • Academic excellence and personal growth
  • Programs that reach as many students as possible
  • Parity among all elementary schools
  • Programs with a K-12 perspective
  • Innovation in teaching and learning
  • Programs that align with the priorities of parents, teachers, and District goals

The MBEF Board works hard to ensure that our grants meet parent and teacher priorities. Both parents and teachers are surveyed biennially to assess priorities and needs. Over 34% of parents and 75% of teachers responded to the 2016 Survey to share their insights. The MBEF Executive Director and President participate in independent meetings with each school principal on an annual basis to assist in determining priorities. The MBEF Team also corresponds with all stakeholders via phone calls, emails and meetings throughout the year. Most recently, MBEF hosted a Teacher Focus Group to provide a setting in which teachers could share their feedback in person.

The MBEF Grant Committee, made up of 8 MBEF Board Members from all seven school sites, holds multiple meetings, including several with the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent of Education Services, prior to the approval of all grants. During these meetings, priorities are discussed and potential programmatic solutions are proposed. Once determined that the proposed grants are feasible and meet District goals, the Grant Committee takes the proposed grants to the MBEF Board of Directors for approval. The MBEF leadership meets monthly with the Superintendent to ensure that the implementation of the programs funded by MBEF are meeting expectations.

The purpose of MBEF is to fund and advocate for enrichment programming, and to ensure that the funds we are granting are appropriately and effectively used. Like all other foundations, we are not involved in personnel relations, hiring, or management of District employees. We do not make any decisions on the ways in which programs are implemented or the curriculum that the District uses. This is important because it strengthens our voice so that we advocate for programming for all students. In addition, this separation helps to maintain the autonomy of the District/School Board and ensures that no individual parents’ voice is louder than others.

We welcome your suggestions and feedback on how funds are allocated. Send us your input.


10CAN I DESIGNATE HOW MY DONATION IS USED?

The mission of MBEF is to enhance the District’s capacity to provide an exceptional and consistent education for all children in our schools. Instructional programs are ultimately decided by the School Board and the administration, taking into consideration the needs of the entire District. MBEF’s role is to support that effort rather than to direct it.

In 2015, MBEF’s Board of Directors has shifted our policy to allow for directed gifts that adhere to a set of guiding policies that ensure they are aligned with our commitment to parity and consistency across the District.

Guidelines for Restricted Donations:

MBEF will implement and accept donor directed funds for short-term purpose restricted programs in the following situations:

  • The school district leadership is supportive of the proposed program
  • Donor makes a minimum three-year funding commitment
  • Donor provides full amount or a written pledge, so that MBEF can provide a grant to the district
  • Full restricted grant value should be a minimum of $150K
  • If program serves an elementary school, it must serve ALL elementary schools

The Endowment can implement donor directed/named funds in all of the above situations and:

  • The donor’s gift intention is expressed in writing, with an understanding that there must be flexibility to adapt to changing trends in education. This is especially important for large and/or long-term endowed gifts
  • If the program does not exist, the Foundation will work with the donor to determine how to implement the program based on long-term disbursements


11. HOW IS MBEF GOVERNED? WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR DECISION-MAKING?

MBEF is governed by a Board of Directors, comprised of roughly 35 members, most of whom are parents of children in the District. Members of our Board represent all school sites and bring a broad range of expertise including law, financial services, human resources, communications, accounting, fund development and nonprofit management. The PTA/PTSA president from each school in the District is also represented as a voting member of the Board. Board meetings are open to the public and are held quarterly at the District headquarters on Peck Avenue. We welcome and encourage your attendance.

Farnaz Flechner is the Executive Director and oversees the daily operations of MBEF and the Endowment. Farnaz came to MBEF in 2014 with an extensive background in educational policy and nonprofit management. A small team works alongside Farnaz and together they oversee the Annual Appeal, fund development, community outreach, events, District collaboration, grantmaking and accountability, budgeting, and more.

Click here to see our Board and Staff Members.


12. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MBEF AND THE ENDOWMENT?

“Great schools today, great schools forever”. This is the goal of the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation and the MBEF Endowment — two great organizations, with a shared mission to provide excellent education in our community. MBEF exists to support quality public education here in Manhattan Beach today, while the Endowment works to provide a continuing and sustainable funding source that will expand and enhance the quality of public education in Manhattan Beach, now and for generations to come.

As a myriad of challenges continue to face public education in our state, the Endowment’s support will become even more crucial. The MBEF Endowment has one mission – to grow the Endowment through our partnerships with community members and parents. Ambitious gifts from our supporters, and strong long-term investment returns, will enable MBEF to achieve its goal of great Manhattan Beach public schools forever. So, no matter what happens to state budgets and funding, our public schools will continue to achieve the level of excellence all children deserve.

Both entities are vital for ensuring our public schools have the financial support they need.


13. WHY DON’T WE FOCUS ON LEGISLATIVE SHIFTS INSTEAD OF RAISING FUNDS FROM THE COMMUNITY?

Both MBEF and the PTA’s have legislative committees on our Boards that advocate for increased funding for education to our local and state representatives on a regular basis. That said, we recognize that legislative shifts take time, and we must move forward on all fronts simultaneously. Here are some of the limitations we face in advocating for additional state funding:

  • Increase in overall state funding. Since the state has increased funding for education through LCFF relatively recently, additional increases are not a priority for our current Governor.
  • Retain a larger portion of our property taxes. To increase our property tax dollars for education, one of two things would have to happen. Our state would have to either reform Proposition 13 to bring additional property tax dollars to education, or we would have to shift Assembly Bill 8 so a larger portion of our current property taxes would go to education.
    • Prop 13 reform is highly unlikely because a state-wide increase in property taxes could be devastating to elders, and thus any change to Prop 13 would not be supported by the majority of people who vote.
    • To increase AB8 funding allocation to education and shift MBUSD to “Basic Aid” would require (1) dissolution of the City of Manhattan Beach and creation of a new allotment, or (2) boundary changes where Manhattan Beach would have to take over a nearby city with a better allotment. As none of the districts in our area have a better allotment than we do, this is also highly unlikely.
  • Pass a Parcel Tax. Parcel taxes are a flat-tax assessed per parcel to increase revenue for educators and school expenses. Prop 13 requires a two-thirds supermajority in local elections to implement a parcel tax. As described above, most of the districts like us are either Basic Aid, or they have parcel taxes. The City of Manhattan Beach has not voted on a Parcel Tax since 2003 (A $108-per-parcel, 5-year tax with a senior citizens’ exemption got 58% of the vote in June 2003, but needed 66.7%). At that time, a much smaller portion of our voting population had children in our schools. A parcel tax may be a much more sustainable funding solution, but would require a great deal of education and advocacy, and would be more likely to pass in a Presidential election year, when a larger portion of our parent population would be likely to vote.


14. WHAT CAN WE DO TO CHANGE THE OVERALL FINANCIAL SITUATION IN OUR SCHOOLS?

Active civic participation is essential! Your vote for city council, state and federal officials is a very important tool and can influence funding. Both local and state-wide elected officials are responsible for the oversight and funding of the state’s educational system. More and more consideration is being given to a parcel tax in our community to provide a more sustainable funding source for our schools.

Your input is essential. As a 501(c)(3), MBEF cannot advocate for candidates or policies, as we could risk our nonprofit status. It is thus important for our community to stand up and make your views known to your representatives. Advocate whenever you can and continue to be an educated voter.