Why do our schools need MBEF anyways?
You have heard again and again that funding for our schools is inadequate. But few people understand WHY.
In recent months, we have been providing more clarity on our District’s funding challenge, and many have found this level of detail helpful. This is a long email, but likely the most important you will receive from MBEF this year.
There are four main factors that impact our District’s funding:
1) We are a Revenue Limit District. Only a small portion of our property taxes support 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. As a result, MBUSD is a “Revenue Limit” district and does not retain property taxes. “Basic Aid” districts, such as Palo Alto and Beverly Hills, funded education at a higher level in the 70s, so they retain excess property taxes. Most of the funding for our schools is supplemented by the state.
2) We do not have a Parcel Tax. Unlike the other highly ranked districts listed below, we do not have a parcel tax that subsidizes state funding. A parcel tax is generally a flat tax assessed per parcel for ongoing educational expenses, such as teachers and enrichment. Bond measures, like the recently passed measures C and EE, pay for facilities. All of the districts below have education foundations that provide anywhere from $1M-$6M of funding each year, in addition to their parcel tax revenue.
3) Our student population does not qualify for supplemental funding through LCFF. While in recent years funding for education in California has improved, it is important to note that most of this funding goes to schools with large numbers of high need students – those classified as low-income, English learners and foster youth. MBUSD has the lowest number of students who qualify for supplemental funding in LA County. Local Control Funding Formula is an important step to strengthen our state’s schools, but funding in California remains inadequate for all students.
4) California funding for education is inadequate. California is 44th in the nation in school funding, and 50th in student to teacher and student to counselor ratios. When compared to states like New York and New Jersey with average per pupil funding above $19,000, our average funding is dismal. For all of the reasons listed above, MBUSD receives less funding than every other K-12 district in LA county, and is fourth from the bottom in California. Palo Alto is a Basic Aid district with a significant parcel tax, and an education foundation that raises approximately $6 million each year, thereby spending more than $16,000 per pupil.
At this time, MBEF is the only district-wide mechanism that our district has to subsidize funding for our schools.