Concerned parents addressed the board and nearly 100 attendees at a Wednesday, Feb. 26 MBUSD school board meeting regarding upcoming district employee layoffs. (Photo by Tyler Shaun Evains, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

Concerned parents addressed the board and nearly 100 attendees at a Wednesday, Feb. 26 MBUSD school board meeting regarding upcoming district employee layoffs. (Photo by Tyler Shaun Evains, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

The Manhattan Beach Education Foundation this week gave its largest grant in history, the organization announced Monday.

MBEF, a community driven fundraising organization that supplements state funding for K-12 academic and co-curricular programs, donated $7.5 million to Manhattan Beach Unified schools for the 2020-21 school year, a jump from last year's $6.5 million.

That $1 million increase was raised through MBEF's Manhattan Wine Auction in May, which could help bring back MBUSD positions that were eliminated through budget-driven layoffs.

The auction's fundraising goal changes every year, MBEF executive director Hilary Mahan said in May, and this year's was to help immediately bridge the school district's funding gap. 

"Between increased district expenses, reduced state revenue, and a global pandemic," Mahan said in a press release, "Ensuring enriched educational opportunities for our students is more and more difficult. But this community has proven, year after year, that it stands with our schools.”

The coronavirus pandemic had added a $3.3 million budget deficit to the $3.6 million in spending cuts that the school board voted to make in February to balance the shortfall. 

“Typically, the majority of our funding is committed to ensuring the continued success of long-standing programs," said Ann Marie Whitney, grants committee chair for MBEF, "But this year, the significant budget cuts shifted some funding away from our traditional programs and towards filling the gap between what the state provides and what education actually costs in our district."

Class sizes for the upcoming school year now have more potential to stay smaller, and programs such as counseling, music, P.E., library, STEM and visual arts could operate at their same levels with the added funds.

Since 1983, MBEF has donated more than $80 million to MBUSD, according to the press release.

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