Cuts to Manhattan Beach Unified libraries

Last week MBUSD School Board approved a budget cut, reducing the number of elementary and middle school library resource specialists by 2.8 [full-time employees], at a cost saving of approximately $148,000. Currently, elementary students enjoy weekly visits for a presentation crafted to instill a love of reading, to enhance Common Core classroom lessons, and to inspire life-long learning. Visits include checking out materials, practicing information literacy, and exercising digital citizenship.

When my children were at Grand View Elementary, I was fortunate to volunteer at the library for class time and during recesses and I watched all the students grow from kindergarten to fifth grade with their book selections. Heidi Snively, the GV Library Specialist, provided a warm space for the children to explore the world through books. Weekly visits afforded Mrs. Snively time to get to know each child and their particular interests. An elementary school library is a special place in the formative years for young students.

While I appreciate that the Board has not completely eliminated the library resource specialists, with the fiscal crisis our district is experiencing, these opportunities will be reduced to the detriment of our children. I recognize that these cuts are necessary to be able to keep our district fiscally solvent. I hope that our community will look for ways to ensure these opportunities continue at our elementary schools. The Support Our Schools Week from March 21st to March 28th is the time to step it up and help make a difference.

—Joni Ramallo, Manhattan Beach

Hermosa Beach police recruiting

In our continuing efforts to improve Hermosa Beach Police Department (HBPD) recruitment and retention, we launched a new website page, https://www.hermosabeach.gov/joinhbpd, which is dedicated to attracting “outstanding, service-oriented candidates who are passionate about making a difference in the community” to serve as HBPD officers.

We are committed to using every available tool, and the webpage is the most recent one. We have already assigned additional personnel to HBPD recruiting. We are using social media, advertising and other outreach. And we are making a difference.

We have three police recruits currently in training, and we had 60 applicants invited to participate in our most recent pre-employment testing for police officer positions. We anticipate scheduling additional testing dates in the near future and encourage those interested in a career in law enforcement to submit their applications soon.

Our intensified recruiting efforts highlight the new salary schedule that is a result of the recently approved Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City and the union representing HBPD’s officers and sergeants, the Hermosa Beach Police Officers Association (HBPOA). The agreement provided a 19% base pay increase over three years – the largest pay increase for the union’s members in at last 25 years.

We’re also emphasizing the separate sign-on bonus program established to recruit and retain officers. It 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” which are qualified officers from police or sheriff’s departments who join the HBPD and stay.

—Suja Lowenthal, Hermosa Beach city manager

Support for Senior and Scout facilities

Tucked behind the Joslyn Community Center is the Scout House. This city building long ago passed its useful life, having been built in 1952. Years ago, the idea for a new building, one that would serve our seniors and our scouts, was borne. Conceptually, the Senior and Scout Community Center made a great deal of sense, an intergenerational community center serving two important groups.

The Senior and Scout Community Center is an example of another wonderful public-private partnership. The City of Manhattan Beach is responsible for the exterior shell and core construction while the Friends of the Senior and Scout Community Center, another MB resident-inspired non-profit, is responsible for the “tenant improvements,” including the interior build out, courtyard and furnishings. This new Senior and Scout Community Center will be a two-story facility with over 7,000 square feet.

Thanks to the leadership of Councilmember Steve Napolitano, the prior council pledged to commit $1 million if the Friends of the Senior and Scout Community Center could raise the remaining $2.5 million by June of 2020, with construction scheduled to start at that time. Well, the Friends of the Senior and Scout Community Center are close to that fundraising goal. In hopes of raising the remaining funds and reaching the goal, they are sponsoring a Benefit Gala on Saturday, March 21 at the Joslyn Community Center from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Kudos to the City and the Friends for their innovative public-private partnership! 

—Mark Burton, Manhattan Beach

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

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