Manhattan Beach has been a beacon to families for years. In addition to our great location in the South Bay, families seek out our city because of the consistent high scores and performance of our entire school system, year after year. But recent years have shown that as our families with children have risen, our population for local school enrollment has declined. In speaking with many parents over the past year, the curriculum is changing and many in our community do not agree with this direction, and it’s having an impact. As enrollment is dropping, schools need to make up the financial shortfall. Many more permits are being granted to students outside of our community, so that the MBUSD can make up the state funding through head count. In typical Sacrademento fashion, we take our tax dollars; send them up to the state capitol, so they can redistribute them to other areas of the state. On the surface this seems to be equitable and fair; however, we found our community being split apart as to how to best handle the funding shortfall. Measure A pitted neighbor against neighbor as to the best way to keep the quality of our schools. Manhattan Beach residents were effectively being double taxed for schools that are declining in attendance, creating a further spiral to the problem. This all began with curriculum changes pushed down from, guess where…Sacramento.
When I hear that parents and constituents are being shunned or limited from speaking their opinions at school board meetings towards matters concerning their children and their school board decisions, it’s a problem. Does any of this make any sense? Although I can respect the separation of the MBUSD from the influence of City Council, these are parents and children in our community, and our schools are locally funded. The recent climate of keeping a laissez-faire approach between MBUSD and City Council is not giving everyone in the community the ability to express their concerns. They have a right to express their concerns as MBUSD receives funding from these folks through local tax dollars. The MBUSD and the City Council both work for the parents in this district, not the County, and not Sacramento. This, together with the resounding defeat of Measure A, tells me that we need to collectively rise above the combative tactics which caused so much grief between ideologies and funding. We need to come together as parents, grandparents and as a community to work toward creating a more constructive dialogue in our schools, and if it takes involvement from City Council, then we need to figure out how to do that.
I will make every effort to re-open the communication between the Council and the School Board; so all in the community have a voice to be a part of curriculum decisions for their children, with the goal of keeping our kids, and our funds in our schools.