Why are MBUSD schools underfunded?
Only a small portion of our property taxes, high as they are, supports education. The formula to allocate property tax dollars for education is based on education spending levels in 1978. At that time, MBUSD was a K-8 district and spent a small share of property taxes on our schools — roughly 20%. Proposition 13 passed in 1978 and limited the sum of all property taxes to 1% of the assessed property value. “Basic Aid” school districts like Beverly Hills and Palo Alto funded education at a significantly higher level in 1978, so they are able to retain property taxes above base funding. MBUSD is a “Revenue Limit” district and cannot retain excess property taxes. As a result, most of the revenue for our schools comes from fluctuating funding sources, such as sales tax, business and personal income tax, not property tax.
Throughout the country, counties decide how much funding to invest in their local schools. In California, per-pupil funding is determined by the state legislature. The state collects taxes and determines a base level of funding per student. With the introduction of Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) in 2013, the state also provides supplemental funding for high-need students. While the goal of this legislation is praise-worthy — to give students who require more resources more funding — education funding in California remains inadequate for all students.
California spends less money per student than almost every other state and half as much as the most generous states. Throughout California districts like ours supplement state funding with parcel and utility taxes and education foundations. In 2015/16 MBUSD received $7,500 per pupil, which put us at the bottom of the state and the country in per pupil funding.
MBUSD has no parcel tax for our schools.
MBUSD is the only top-ranked school district in California without a parcel tax to supplement state funding. Parcel taxes are generally a flat tax assessed per parcel, to increase revenue for ongoing expenses at a District’s discretion. Prop 13 requires a two-thirds supermajority in local elections to implement such taxes. All of the school districts listed below also have Education Foundations that provide anywhere from $1M-$6M of funding each year, in addition to their parcel tax revenue.