MB school funding enhancements

MBUSD receives approximately $10,450 in per pupil funding each year. California per pupil spending ranks 37th in the U.S., with states such as Massachusetts and New York spending approximately $15,000 and $22,000 respectively. To augment the budget, MBEF, the key partner for MBUSD, raises over $6 million dollars per year and the parcel tax raises another $2.4 million per year. This results in an added $2,000 per pupil per year, which certainly helps (without it we would be in dire need), but falls short of providing our district with the funds to match those in other states. Such low per pupil spending puts strains on our school district to provide the best education for our students. Despite the insufficient funds the state provides, our schools and students continue to thrive. Why?

At the elementary level, our schools have top-notch classroom teachers. For example, a 4th grade teacher at Pennekamp not only teaches the core subjects but also infuses a photography project that has students create a picture portfolio and teaches them the mechanics of a camera.

These innovative teachings don’t go unnoticed. Our state test scores are 4th overall in language arts and math. Our elementary students are thriving due to the dedication of our teachers and organization of our schools.

As a parent in this community, I could not be prouder to have my kids enrolled in our schools. Our schools bring this community together and helping support them will only benefit us all today and tomorrow.

—Anna Bargagliotti, Manhattan Beach

MB school budget shortfall

RE: "Cost of Mira Costa athletic complex," The Beach Reporter, 2/20/20: Dan Rogoff glibly points out: “Unfortunately the projected budget deficit will require reductions in personnel and programs and Superintendent Matthews forecasts approximately 30 layoffs for the next school year.” Is “unfortunately” the best word you can come up with as the superintendent impacts 30 careers? In 2016 and 2018, the budget shortfalls were well known and the school board abdicated responsibilities, opting to build a shiny new gym for $38 million rather than address the operating budget crisis. Effective schools are built on quality teachers and not brick-and-mortar structures. Shame on the MBUSD administration believing parcel taxes and bond measures are better used for sports than for academic achievement.

—Dennis Fitzgerald, Manhattan Beach

Mira Costa High School rigor

Recent news of state budget cuts to MBUSD is troubling. California so woefully underfunds its schools, especially MBUSD. Yet our schools remain the reason our children thrive here and why many seek to live here. With the lack of state funding and millions in budget cuts I fear for our schools and our community. Yet, there is so much to celebrate.

Mira Costa High School consistently ranks as one of the top high schools nationwide. District and MBEF funding help provide a wide range of rigorous coursework. For instance, the three-year pathway in biotechnology enables students to apply their coursework in practical settings; labs include DNA extraction and precipitation, GRAM staining, and forensic DNA mapping. The theater programs produce professional quality productions. Mustang Morning News is a nationally award-wining program, and Costa’s Model U.N. is the most decorated program of its kind in the United States. Costa’s GRAMMY® Award-winning music department concert ensembles have been featured at Carnegie Hall, and its jazz program recently took the silver medal at the Berklee High School Jazz Festival. Costa boasts 35 varsity athletic teams; in 2018-2019 MCHS won 11 league championships and 3 CIF championships. Seventy three % of graduates attend four-year universities, compared to 23% statewide. In 2019, students were offered admission to all campuses of the University of California and the majority of the Ivies. We have so much to be proud of. As a community we need to rise up against lack of state funding for our schools.

—Erin Levin, Manhattan Beach

Hermosa Beach police contract

I read with relief that our Hermosa council has approved the contract with our Police Officers Association. While I disagree with the POA's casual use of facts, I do admire the effectiveness of the its campaign, and I think all the folks with the "Save Hermosa Police" signs in their windows can now go back to Harbor Freight and be with the rest of the tools.

But I do have one concern, maybe the lawyers in town can help me. The Memorandum of Understanding is between the City and the POA, but although the POA has a very professional web site that accepts donations, I cannot see that it has ever been legally formed or that it has qualified as a tax-exempt organization. To me this raises the question whether the POA has the legal capacity to enter into a contract with the City.

I hope this is not an issue, since I respect the officers on whom we routinely call to handle disagreeable matters (I say that sincerely; I have little use for the POA but great respect for the officers who serve us). But if it's an issue it would not be the first time our whackadoodle City Council has failed to do its homework.

—Greg Breen, Hermosa Beach

Manhattan Beach tobacco ban formalized

Thank you, MB City Council for formally adopting an ordinance prohibiting the sale of all tobacco products and electronic smoking devices in the city. I’m glad to know our town is a leader in promoting safe and healthy practices.

Also thrilled that our SouthBay is considered a “blue zone,” a place that promotes healthy living and the real probability of extra longevity? This ordinance is "Right On" protecting children and everyone! And former smokers have said it has already helped them quit.

Breathe Free has been great. Now we need strict enforcement. Living in Manhattan Beach is a breath of fresh air... unless I’m in a restaurant when someone is smoking outside... Or even in my closed car when smoke manages to enter my car somehow (even with AC off). Our beach cleanups still collect and count hundreds of disgusting butts!

Now with this formal ordinance we can keep tobacco sales away from our children (and off the conscience of retail workers), and also we can feel empowered to ask a smoker near us to put it out. Thank you!

—Joanne Hadley, Manhattan Beach

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

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