Manhattan Beach fire department contract
 
With the Council approval of a labor contract with MBFD Firefighters on Tuesday evening, the saga of the attempt to permit the takeover of our MBFD is over. This paves the way for Chief Drum and our paramedics/firefighters to work collaboratively to restore the luster to the badge and make MBFD the best fire department in California. Once again, management and labor are aligned with this goal in mind. Thank you to all the Manhattan Beach residents who supported keeping our MBFD. Your voice was heard loud and clear by all!

—Mark Burton, Manhattan Beach
 
Golf at The Lakes
 
A group of us play weekly at “The Lakes at El Segundo” [golf course], and enjoy the nine holes followed by very good lunches.
 
The ongoing negotiations have held the course improvements and maintenance conversations at bay: sand bunkers, plants, water features, fairways and greens, pro shop; all falling into neglect and disrepair. The public has heard very little about what may be in store for the golf course itself; we hear about the “arcade-style” driving range and the over-the-top commercialization of the property.
 
Will the actual course itself be improved, beautified, at least brought back to its well-kept days of yore? Or will there be changes that are not in the realm of good community golf, readily available short-course practice for kids and adults?
 
There has to be more comprehensive disclosure than just the high-tech range and probably expensive restaurant/bar. What about the golf course?

—Judy Hatlie, Manhattan Beach
 
Manhattan Beach school district budget
 
Many are deeply concerned about the $3,000,000 in budget cuts MBUSD is facing this year. Some have heard this story before, however, with each passing year, the structural issues are becoming increasingly challenging and the creative solutions are harder to find.

The Manhattan Beach Education Foundation (MBEF) supplements the budget each year with significant funding ($6.5 million in 2019/20) raised through our community: the Annual Appeal, currently at 92% of the $5,000,000 goal which ends tomorrow; the Manhattan Wine Auction in June that helps support the growing Endowment Fund, and business support through sponsorships and matching gifts.
 
The parcel tax has helped stave off approximately 50 layoffs over the past two years. The PTAs have increasingly taken on supply budgets, covering almost $1 million collectively each year. The city of MB contributes $1.8 million annually for safety, facilities, and maintenance.
 
All of this is still not enough. Pension costs have quadrupled since 2011. Special Ed costs have increased to $24 million with only $6.4 provided by the state. Not as many young families can afford to move into Manhattan Beach causing a decrease in enrollment, resulting in a decrease in state funding.
 
The problem is now and it is real. It affects us all whether we have children in the schools or not. We are one community and we need everyone’s help. We need ideas! We need support. We are all in this together for our kids, our schools, and the future of Manhattan Beach.

-Wysh Weinstein, PTA President, Pacific Elementary
 
MB school enrollment
 
Once again, after a few years hiatus, the MBUSD is saying there will be pink slips given to teachers.
 
In order to help avoid this unfortunate circumstance, they are asking the parents of each student to contribute $1,700 to the district. The MBEF tries their best every year to contribute as much aid as possible.
 
This district keeps asking for more.
 
In view of declining enrollment, perhaps it is time to reduce the over head in the office staff. Are so many jobs really needed to keep our declining enrollment schools running smoothly?
 
Also in the reality of declining enrollment, maybe it is time to give consideration to the possibility of closing a grammar school. The district has done this before and maybe it is time to bite the bullet and do it again. We all want the best for our district's children, but at the same time we do need to be realistic.
 
—Nelle Overstreet, Manhattan Beach
 
Leadership at MBUSD

Once again, Dr. Matthews comes with his hat in his hand, looking for a handout from the community. 
 
Four years ago, it was the “emergency need” to replace the Mira Costa HS gym (community cost of $40 million). The tag line being that the district was in great shape financially. Two years later, the parcel tax ($2.4MM) was needed on an “emergency basis” to save teaching positions. At that time, I reviewed the numbers and was vocal in challenging his proposal as it was only half of what was needed.
 
Now he’s back again, seeking more funding, threatening more teacher layoffs – never proposing administrator layoffs or salary reductions.

His skills may be in educating (though the statistics he cites ignore the fact that 25% of the students are not performing at grade level in math); his skills are below grade level in school finance and management.

The time has now come where he should be removed as superintendent, perhaps moved to a role of director of education. MBUSD deserves better administration; saying “no” to another parcel tax will send that message.
 
As a last point Dr. Matthews, if MBUSD is so poorly funded, why would you spend $40M on a gym rather than on the MBUSD’s primary mission of educating? Surely investing in teachers has a better return on investment.
 
—Dennis Fitzgerald, Manhattan Beach
  
Teen bands at Polliwog park
 
It's very sad that Manhattan Beach Parks is considering not allowing the teen bands to play this summer at the Polliwog concerts in the park. Thousands attend these concerts every summer. Is this decision seriously being based on a survey that only 103 people took? Is this decision being based solely on the fact that only 69 people "disagreed the opening acts added value to the overall concert experience?" Come on. I have attended these concerts for 28 years; never miss one unless I'm out of town. In all those years, I have never been handed a survey at the end of the summer. A show of hands would have been better than this. I hope there is a change of heart, and mind, Manhattan Beach. This is such a great venue for these young kids to play, and a great experience for them. We should be supporting these teens and their interest in music.

—Kelly Charles, Redondo Beach
 
Hermosa Beach city and police
 
The City of Hermosa Beach has reached tentative agreement on a new contract with the union representing our police officers and sergeants, the Hermosa Beach Police Officers Association (HBPOA).
 
The HBPOA voted last week to accept the City’s proposal for a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Your City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the contract, which provides the HBPOA a 19% raise over three years — the largest pay increase in at least 25 years for the union’s members — along with officer retention bonuses of up to $7,500, and education incentives for courses, books and tuition at California State University rates.

Additionally, before we tentatively agreed, I initiated a separate sign-on bonus program that pays up to $30,000 to entry-level and pre-service recruits who join the HBPD and stay, and up to $40,000 to “laterals,” qualified officers from police or sheriff’s departments who join the HBPD and stay. To better support the recruitment process, I also added the City’s interim police chief, our Human Resources staff, and myself to the Hermosa Beach Police Department’s (HBPD) recruitment and retention efforts.

The pay raises, bonuses and additional recruitment incentives will grow our police force and retain our current officers. We thank the community for its input during the negotiations, and we look forward to finalizing the contract and moving HBPD forward. We, of course, place a high priority on public safety, and our Police Chiefs have consistently confirmed we continue to have sufficient personnel to protect public safety.
 
—Suja Lowenthal, Hermosa Beach city manager 
 

Contact Lisa Jacobs lisa.jacobs@TBRnews.com or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

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