Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What does the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation (MBEF) do?
  2. Why do our schools need both MBEF and the PTAs?
  3. How does MBEF raise money?
  4. How will MBEF funding be used in the 2015/16 school year?
  5. How much should I give?
  6. I would prefer to make my donation to MBEF in installments – do you have payment options?
  7. How does MBEF determine which positions and programs to fund?
  8. Can I designate how my donation is used?
  9. How is MBEF governed? Who is responsible for decision-making?
  10. How much money does our district receive from the state?
  11. Why aren’t our property taxes providing more funding to our schools?
  12. Wouldn’t it help our schools if we could keep our property tax dollars in Manhattan Beach?
  13. I’ve heard about school districts labeled “basic aid” within California. What does that mean?
  14. How is the percentage of property tax revenue allocated to education determined?
  15. Do we have a Parcel Tax in place in Manhattan Beach?
  16. How does the new Local Control Funding Formula affect MBUSD?
  17. 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 what the state provides to our District, and what it costs to provide a well-rounded, high quality education. State funding for education in California is inadequate for many basic programs, and certainly insufficient to fund enrichment programs, electives, and counseling services. MBEF funds programs that engage students in learning, spark their creativity, and help them discover their passions. MBEF will fund over $6 million to our school district for the 2015/16 school year. Click here to read about the programs MBEF is funding this year.


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

MBEF and PTAs are vital partners in supporting the success of MBUSD. MBEF and PTAs collaborate closely to provide a quality K-12 education for all children in our District. MBEF uses its resources primarily to pay for teachers, 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 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 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. Our schools’ student populations vary as do teacher salaries so we ensure that all students benefit equally from an MBEF grant. 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.


3. 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 gets underway and runs through January or February. Last year, parents contributed approximately 73% 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 school District next year.

Manhattan Wine Auction
The Manhattan Wine Auction, now in its 22nd 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 is a sold out gala with approximately 1,800 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 11th, 2016.

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 sponsorship team. It truly takes a village to support an outstanding public school system!

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 $318,000 from over 70 companies. Please check with your employer to find out if they offer such a program, and if so, don’t forget to request and submit the paperwork.

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 $13M and continues to climb. In 2015, the Endowment disbursed $250K to fund MBEF programs for the 2015/16 school year. With continued support from our community, the annual disbursement to our schools will continue to increase.


4. HOW WILL MBEF FUNDING BE USED IN THE 2015/16 SCHOOL YEAR?

MBEF’s contribution to the District for the 2015/16 school year exceeds $6 million. This funding pays for 71 educators and increases per-student spending by 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.

In our recent community survey, 78% of parents said that expanding our STEM programming was their top priority for the 2015/16 year. This year, MBEF will fund the following new programs that are aligned with this priority: Project Lead the Way – a nationally recognized hands-on STEM curriculum; District-wide Math Professional Development; Innovation Grants to Teachers, and additional STEM units at MBMS so that every student has an opportunity to participate.

Click here to view 2015/16 MBEF Grants


5HOW MUCH SHOULD I GIVE?

Our goal is to have 100 percent 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 $1,500 or more per child, and ask that you consider a meaningful gift for your family. If you are in a financial position to give more, please do. If you are not able to give $1,500 per child, we hope you’ll give what you can. Every gift is important to helping us reach our goal, and every donor matters.

Corporate matching gifts programs are another way to make a significant contribution to MBEF. MBEF is eligible to receive matching gifts from participating companies. Please check with your employer to see if they offer such a program. Last year MBEF received over $300,000 in matching funds!

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


6I WOULD PREFER TO MAKE MY DONATION TO MBEF IN INSTALLMENTS. DO 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).

  • 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.
  • One-time Donation — donate immediately by check or credit card
  • Appreciated Stock – donation of stock certificates
  • Pledge — Make a commitment to donate at a time, or multiple times during the school year. All pledges must be paid by June 30.

If your employer matches donations, please remember to request and submit the paperwork.


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

The MBUSD Board of Trustees and the school administration determine instruction in our schools; that is, what will be taught, who will teach it, and how coursework will be delivered at each school. MBEF provides the funding, above and beyond what the state pays for, to support and enhance the District’s instructional plan.

MBEF raises money through the Annual Appeal one year in advance so when the school board and administration is working on the Budget each spring, they know which staff and programs will be publicly funded, and how much MBEF funding is available to fill critical gaps.

Every other year, parents and teachers are asked to fill out a survey from MBEF to provide insight into community-wide priorities. The MBEF Grants Committee, a subgroup of the MBEF Board of Directors meets with MBUSD leaders and principals to discuss potential grants for the following year. Funding recommendations are presented to the full MBEF Board, who then collaborates with District leaders to make grant selections that reflect community input and priorities.

The MBEF Staff, Board of Directors, and the Grants Committee work hard to gather parent and donor input and communicate this information to administrators and the school board so they can understand and consider these priorities when making decisions about instruction.

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


8CAN 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.

This year, MBEF’s Board of Directors has shifted our policy to allow for directed gifts that adhere to a set of guiding policies to 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 program based on long term disbursements


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

MBEF is governed by a Board of Directors, comprised of roughly 30 members, most but not all 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.


10. HOW MUCH MONEY DOES OUR DISTRICT RECEIVE FROM THE STATE?

The amount of funding our District 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 will receive 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.

California ranks 46th in the nation in per pupil funding, so the fact that MBUSD receives substantially less than many districts in the state speaks to the need to raise additional funds so we are able to provide an excellent, well-rounded public school education for our children. There is no question that one of the primary reasons, if not THE primary reason, our schools continue to thrive, is because of the community-wide investment in MBEF. Without your financial support, many programs and teachers would disappear.


11. WHY AREN’T OUR PROPERTY TAXES PROVIDING MORE FUNDING TO OUR SCHOOLS??

Unlike other states where counties decide how much to allocate to education, in California, per pupil funding is determined at the state level. Our 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.

Most of the revenue for school funding comes from business and personal income taxes, sales taxes, and some special taxes, not property taxes. In the 1980s, Proposition 13 and legal rulings limited a community’s ability to tax its residents to pay for schools. Our property taxes, high as they are, no longer stay in Manhattan Beach. In 2014/15, we received roughly $7,000 per pupil, which puts us at the bottom of the country in funding. With an investment of more than $6M from our community, MBEF is able to increase District spending by 9%.

You can learn more about California school funding at www.edsource.org


12. WOULDN’T IT HELP OUR SCHOOLS IF WE COULD KEEP OUR PROPERTY TAX DOLLARS IN MANHATTAN BEACH??

Currently, MBUSD receives almost twice as much funding from the state as a revenue limit district than we would as a basic aid district like Beverly Hills or Irvine.  This is due to the relatively low percent of local property taxes that Manhattan Beach is allowed to direct to education, and because our overall property tax basis is relatively low despite high home values. Manhattan Beach is only permitted to direct 20% of property taxes to education. Although the funding determination is done annually, this percentage is not adjustable.  Many homeowners in Manhattan Beach live in homes with a tax basis of less than $500,000, so until our property tax valuation grows significantly, we receive more funding as a revenue limit district.


13 I’VE HEARD ABOUT SCHOOL DISTRICTS LABELED “BASIC AID” WITHIN CALIFORNIA. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

On a yearly basis, a district is classified as “basic aid” or “revenue limit” by the state. To make the determination, you start with property taxes. Each district is allocated a percentage of its local property taxes for schools. This serves as the base part of the funding equation. If the property tax funding is low, then the state provides more money to reach a revenue limit, or the amount of money the state is willing to spend on education in that school district. The revenue limit, and the percent of property taxes the district keeps, are different for each school district and were set in the 70s.

revlimitbasic comp

If the money from the local property taxes for a district becomes greater than the revenue limit, that district becomes “basic aid” and can keep the funding above and beyond its revenue limit; thus, a basic aid district benefits from declining enrollment as they will have more funds to allocate per pupil. By contrast, the only way a revenue limit district can increase its funding is to increase enrollment or find other sources of local revenue such as from an education foundation such as MBEF.


14. HOW IS THE PERCENTAGE OF PROPERTY TAX REVENUE ALLOCATED TO EDUCATION DETERMINED?

The formula to allocate property tax dollars for education is based on tax rates and education spending levels that were in place in 1972. Unfortunately, Manhattan Beach was spending a relatively small share of property taxes on our schools in the early ‘70s.  At the time, our school District was a K-8 district. Thus, our District may be entitled to less property tax revenue than another district even if the current total assessed value of the respective communities is the same.  A rising local property tax base does not help a school district until it becomes basic aid. The only beneficiary is the state, whose state aid contribution correspondingly decreases as the local property tax base assumes a greater percentage of the district’s revenue limit.

Sources: The Basics of Basic Aid by Darren Sepanek (MB Sun, 2010), and the Irvine Unified School District.


15. DO WE HAVE A PARCEL TAX IN PLACE IN MANHATTAN BEACH?

MBUSD is the only top unified school district in California without a parcel tax, utility tax, or both, to supplement state funding. Instead we rely on our generous community and MBEF to fill the gap. Other top school districts (shown in the graph below), have created education foundations and passed parcel taxes to supplement state funding for schools. Their parcel tax dollars go directly to their school district and can be used as the district chooses.

The parcel tax originated in 1983 in response to California’s Prop 13 and is a form of tax used in California for the funding of public education. Over 25% of public school districts in the state have initiated a parcel tax through the ballot process to supplement their public schools. A parcel tax is a form of property tax, which must be paid by real estate owners. In cities where parcel tax measures have become law, districts have created assessments that range from flat amounts per parcel to assessments based on parcel lot square footage or building square foot.

Manhattan Beach has earned our high rankings without a parcel tax, making your support of MBEF critical to ensure an excellent education for our children. Despite the disappointing funding from the state, our District is currently ranked third in California, with a level of academics that rivals private schools.  Many of these programs are due directly to funding from MBEF, and would be eliminated if not for your financial support.

Parcel Tax Revenue in Top Performing California Districts (2012-13)

MBEF-Chart-PM


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

The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) affects the way the state government provides funding to school districts in grades K-12. One goal of the new law is to improve academic outcomes for targeted disadvantaged students (those classified as low-income, English learners and foster youth). The second goal of LCFF is to give local school districts more authority over how to spend their money.

Under the new system, districts receive a uniform base grant for every student that varies by grade level, as well as a supplemental grant for the targeted students with greater challenges. In addition to these grants, districts with more English Language Learners, Foster youth and students who qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch will receive an additional concentration grant. The transition to LCFF occurred in 2013/14, but the transition to full funding of the LCFF will be phased in gradually.

LCFF will bring a very slight increase in funding for our District over the next 6 years. However, we will not be restored to pre-recession (2007/08) levels of state funding until the 2020/21 school year. Even in 2007, state funding was not enough to support the quality of education our community has come to depend on. Based on our student population, we qualify for a very SMALL portion of the supplemental grant but do NOT qualify for the concentration grant. Exactly how much more we will receive per student per year will continue to depend on the state’s economy.

The reality is that even with LCFF, MBUSD will continue to be significantly underfunded. Your support of MBEF is as important as ever to the quality of your child’s education.

For more information on LCFF, click here.


17. 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. 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.