Our education funding system is complex and could be changing again in June. Here are five things you should know about it:
- Most of our money comes from the state. And most of the state’s money for schools comes from income tax (not property tax). Because income tax revenue fluctuates with the economy, our school funding fluctuates as well. We’ve lost 22 percent of our revenue (over $40 million) since the global recession began five years ago.
- We aren’t like other states. Property taxes do not go straight to our school district nor are they a substantial source of education funding. California’s system changed in the 1970s when Prop 13 capped property taxes and districts lost local control over their funding. At the same time, the state lost a lawsuit challenging the use of property taxes for school funding. By the 1980s, California had in place the current complex system, which has its own limitations.
- Governor Brown is planning sweeping education reform to make the system simpler and to give more funding to districts with low income students and English-language learners. Our district could get less funding over the years under the new system than the current one.
- Our district is underfunded compared to other California school districts or similar communities in other states. California is 49th in per-pupil spending. In Manhattan Beach, we get significantly less than the average California district.
- Funding from MBEF is considered local revenue. There are no limits to local revenue and it does not affect how much state funding we are eligible to receive. A district isn’t penalized for raising money through a foundation or a parcel or sales tax. In fact, in some districts like San Marino and Piedmont (both very high-achieving districts), local revenue is more than 30 percent of the district’s budget. In MBUSD, MBEF grants represent roughly 10 percent of our district’s operating budget.
Without your support of MBEF, our school district would be facing an additional $5 million in cuts. Thankfully, we don’t have to imagine that. Today, MBUSD is a top-ranked K-12 district (fourth highest API score in the state) with many offerings that other districts don’t provide. Your contributions have kept our schools thriving. Thank you for your support.
Nina Patel and the MBEF Board of Directors