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Our Manhattan Beach schools are among the best in the state and country. But despite high property taxes, our per pupil funding for education is different from most other high performing districts. Donations to MBEF each year are critical to providing the enriched educational experiences that our families have come to expect from our schools.

The majority of the robust learning programs and specialized educator positions that shape our district’s exceptional education are possible because of donations to MBEF. These are the unique programs that support 21st century teaching and learning and challenge our students to think critically and creatively.

FACT: Decades of Inadequate State Funding Funding for California public schools has been insufficient for decades – to this day it barely funds the basics, not the enriched educational opportunities that we expect. At one time California was ranked 5th in the nation in per pupil funding, but the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978 dramatically shifted how the state funds education, ultimately moving California to 48th in the nation at its all-time low. California has slowly been building its budget for education over the past 10 years but has only recently surpassed the national average. Depending on the report, California’s per-pupil funding falls anywhere between 19th to 35th if adjusted for the high cost of living. Because of its heavy reliance on state tax revenue, California’s education funding is more volatile than other states – it falls fast during recessions and rises more quickly during economic recoveries. Local funding sources such as parcel taxes and education foundations have been critical to ensuring consistency in maintaining high-quality public schools throughout the state.


FACT: Our Funding Limitations in Manhattan Beach The assumption that our property tax dollars adequately fund public education is simply not true. Despite advancements in California’s education funding levels, Manhattan Beach continues to struggle, receiving roughly $2,000 below the statewide average before local support. Less than 20% of property taxes raised in Manhattan Beach are allocated to fund our local schools – making MBUSD a Revenue Limit district and dependent on state funding to reach the minimum target set by the state for per pupil funding. Basic Aid districts, such as Palo Alto and Laguna Beach, funded education at a higher level when Prop 13 was enacted, and therefore receive a larger portion of local tax dollars. These Basic Aid districts retain the excess property tax dollars above the state target, resulting in significantly higher per pupil funding. Converting to a Basic Aid district is a possibility, but it only occurs when the percentage of property tax dollars allocated to education in a district exceeds the per-pupil target from the state. In the case of Manhattan Beach, this will likely occur in the next 10-14 years, when local property tax revenues increase to a point where 20% is well above the state distribution. Local education leaders have advocated for changing the funding structure with the State Legislature over the years, but protecting the benefits of Proposition 13 has been a significant priority for the state.


FACT: Local Control Funding Formula Supports Equity, Not Adequacy The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) was adopted in 2013 to provide supplemental support of public-school districts with greater numbers of high need students. These districts require additional funding to support costs associated with programs like Free and Reduced Lunch and English Language Learners. Very few students qualify for these programs in MBUSD or other neighboring school districts, and therefore they do not receive significant supplemental funding. Creating equity among California students is essential, but the base level of education funding has remained inadequate for all students. The chart below depicts the stark variation in funding among districts and demonstrates how impactful local support can be on per-pupil funding.


FACT: Budget Challenges Remain Our community has supplemented state funding for years and despite the recent increase in the state budget, the need for local support remains constant. Much of the increase in funding is either one-time to combat challenges brought on by the pandemic or directed to particular spending categories, limiting control to meet local needs. In addition, California’s already declining K-12 student enrollment due to falling birth rates and net migration has been further impacted by COVID-19. Plus, the local burden to cover the growing costs of pensions, healthcare, and other mandated services is outpacing school funding from the state. Ultimately, local support remains critical to meet the needs of our Manhattan Beach students.