Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What does the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation do?
  2. How much money does our district receive from the state?
  3. How will MBEF funds be used in the 2013-2014 school year?
  4. Why do we need both the MBEF and PTAs?
  5. How does MBEF determine which positions and programs to fund?
  6. How much should I give?
  7. Why can’t I designate how my donation is used?
  8. I want to donate to MBEF but can’t give a lump sum – do you have payment options?
  9. What does MBEF do to raise funds?
  10. What can we do to change the overall financial situation in our schools?
  11. I’ve read about Palo Alto, Beverly Hills and Irvine being “basic aid” districts.  What does that mean?
  12. Wouldn’t it help Manhattan Beach schools if we could keep our property taxes?
  13. How was the percent of property tax allotted to education set for Manhattan Beach?

 

Questions and Answers:

1. What does the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation do?

The Manhattan Beach Education Foundation (MBEF) is a volunteer-based, nonprofit organization that raises money to improve and enhance the education provided in Manhattan Beach public schools. State funding for education in California is inadequate for many basic programs and certainly insufficient to fund any enrichment programs. MBEF helps fill the gap between what the state provides the district and what it costs to provide a well-rounded, quality education for students.

MBEF will grant $5.4 million to our school district in 2013-14. This money will pay for over 70 educators, including classroom teachers (to maintain small class sizes), guidance counselors, college and career counselors, librarians, science and reading enrichment teachers, music teachers, 21st century curriculum development and a districtwide reading and writing initiative.


2. How much money does our district receive from the state?

The amount of money our district receives from the state has decreased substantially over the years.  California spends less per student than most every other state in the nation.  California does not require or fund many of the courses and programs offered in the Manhattan Beach schools. Without donations to MBEF, many programs that contribute to an exceptional education – and help place our school district in the top three in the state – would simply disappear.


3. How will MBEF funds be used in the 2013-2014 school year?

MBEF will contribute over $5 million in 2013-2014 to pay for over 70 educators, including classroom teachers (to maintain small class sizes), guidance counselors, college and career counselors, librarians, science and reading enrichment teachers, music teachers, 21st century curriculum development and a districtwide reading and writing initiative.

Click here to view 2013-2014 MBEF Grants.


4. Why do we need both the MBEF and a PTA?

MBEF and PTAs work closely together to provide a quality K-12 education for all children. In fact, PTA presidents from each school sit on the MBEF board to provide input on MBEF decisions. In short, MBEF pays for teachers and PTA pays for things at the school site. MBEF is the only parent organization that the districts allows to pay for teachers. This is so that each elementary school in our district offers the same programs and level of education as the other elementary schools.

MBEF’s focus is on funding the people needed to teach programs at school sites districtwide. MBEF raises funds a year in advance so that its grants can be included in MBUSD’s budget planning process.

Each school’s PTA has its own board that raises and spends funds in the same school year to pay for campus-specific items such as technology, school supplies and classroom materials, for example.  While we can thank MBEF for our librarians, PTA pays for many library books.  Similarly, MBEF pays for science specialists to teach hands-on science but it is the PTA that buys supplies for the science lab.  MBEF and PTA work together to fund critical programs our schools wouldn’t otherwise have.


5. 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 it will be delivered at each school. MBEF provides the funding, above and beyond what the state pays for, to support or enhance that instruction.

MBEF raises money one year in advance so that when the school board makes its budget in the spring, they know which staff and programs public funding will cover and what additional support is needed from MBEF.  Specific grants are then proposed by the MBEF Grants committee, made up of members of the MBEF Board of Directors, and voted on by the full MBEF board. The Grants committee seeks input from donors. We would like to hear from you.  Please provide input by sending an email to questions@mbef.org.
6. How much should I give?

Our goal is to have 100 percent of the families whose children attend an MBUSD school contribute to MBEF.  All children in the district benefit from the educators and programs that MBEF funds and every gift contributes to a better education.

We ask families to consider a meaningful gift for their family. For new families we suggest a gift of $1500 or more per child. Every donation is important and every donor matters. MBEF asks for one annual gift and does not hold additional fundraisers during the school year with the exception of the Manhattan Wine Auction in June.

Does your company have a matching gifts program? MBEF is eligible to receive matching funds 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 MBUSD, you have the very best reason to donate.


7. Can I designate how my donation is used?

The goal of MBEF and the district is to provide an exceptional and consistent education for all children in the district. What makes up that education is ultimately decided by the school board and the administration who consider the needs of the entire district. To allow “special interest” funding of positions and programs would not serve to build an equitable educational foundation year after year for all students in the district.

The MBEF board of directors and Grants Committee work very hard to gather donor input and communicate this information to administrators and the school board so they can understand and consider our donors’ priorities when making decisions about instruction. MBEF works diligently to protect the quality of K-12 education for all students. We welcome your suggestions and input on how funds are allocated. Send us your input.


8. I want to donate to MBEF but can’t give a lump sum – do you have payment options?

MBEF has several payment options available at mbef.org/givetoday or you call the MBEF office at 310-303-3342.

  • Installments—donations are charged to your credit card automatically on the schedule you select. You can establish an installment plan through our online donation system or using the donation envelope.
  • One-time donation provided by check or credit card
  • Appreciated Stock – donation of stock certificates.

Don’t forget to submit the paperwork for a matching funds donation from your employer.


9. What does MBEF do to raise funds?

Annual Appeal Campaign
Our primary fundraising is done through the Annual Appeal.  We ask for your donation at the beginning of the school year. The Appeal ends in January.  We are dedicated to raising the funds necessary to sustain the academic excellence MBUSD students and families have come to expect.

Matching Funds Program
Many companies also contribute to MBEF through a matching funds program. We have received up to $300,000 in the past through matching funds programs. Please check with your employer to find out if they offer such a program.

Pledge Week in November
The objective of this program is to raise awareness among all Manhattan Beach residents and businesses of the need for financial assistance for our school district. Everyone in the community, businesses and residents alike, benefit from residing in an area with one of the top three school districts in California.

Manhattan Wine Auction
MBEF hosts the popular Manhattan Wine Auction each year.  This evening of fun, dancing, fine food and wine typically generates over $700,000 through sponsorships, ticket sales and a live and silent auction. According to our bylaws, one third of the net proceeds from the event go to the MBEF’s Endowment Fund.

MBEF Endowment Fund
The Endowment Fund was set up to provide a more stable source of funding to ensure future excellence and innovation in our schools.  Now that the MBEF Endowment has reached $10 million in assets, a portion of the return on investment will be available to MBEF for annual grants.

Business Sponsorship Program
In 2010, MBEF launched a Business Sponsorship Program that reaches out to small and large businesses in the South Bay to encourage them to invest in Manhattan Beach Schools.

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


10. What can we do to change the overall financial situation in our schools?

Your vote for city council, state and federal officials is a very important tool and can influence district.  These elected officials are responsible for the oversight and funding of the state’s educational system. Although we often voice our frustrations within our local community, it is important to make your views known to other elected officials as well. Advocate whenever you can and continue to be an educated voter.


Summary of Basic Aid Facts

11. I’ve read about Palo Alto, Beverly Hills and Irvine being “basic aid” districts.  What does that mean?

On a yearly basis, a district is classified as “basic aid” or “revenue limit”. 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. 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. A basic aid district benefits from declining student enrollment. Beverly Hills school district was in the news because of the controversy over denying enrollment to students who live outside the Beverly Hills school district– the very students who had helped increase revenue before the district became basic aid.


12. Wouldn’t it help Manhattan Beach schools if we could keep our property taxes?

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 (20 percent) that Manhattan Beach is allowed to keep for its schools, and because our overall property tax basis is relatively low despite high home values. Although the funding determination is done yearly, this percentage is not adjustable.  Many homeowners in Manhattan Beach live in homes with a tax basis of less than $500,000; until our property tax valuation grows significantly, we receive more funding as a revenue limit district.


13. How was the percent of property tax allotted to education set for Manhattan Beach?

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, our city was spending a relatively small share of property taxes on our Manhattan Beach 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 nothing to 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 taxbase 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.