John Bowes

Superintendent's Newsletter
May 27, 2022
Dear MBUSD Parents and Community,

I hope this letter finds you well. Today’s newsletter highlights Grand View Elementary School, a joint statement with the City of Manhattan Beach and Manhattan Beach Police Department reaffirming safety at school, STEM Night at MCHS, and details on how the MCHS Grades of Green Club is recognized for their solution to climate change!
Spotlight on Grand View Elementary (Special thanks to Kari Pliaconis, Nancy Robertson, Teryn Burrows, Deborah Kinzer, and Principal Tara Grings)

5th grade students learn about writing throughout the year by participating in Lucy Calkins' Writing Workshop which prepares students to become confident readers and writers. In this high-quality program, students read and write in genres including narrative, informational, research-based persuasion, poetry, and fantasy. This year, students read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe to learn some literary techniques of the fantasy genre. 
Then, to culminate the year they get to write their own fantasy stories. They become skilled writers who know how to plan, draft, write, edit, revise, and publish their own stories where they are not only the author but the illustrator as well. Students say they love the freedom they have in writing workshops all year long but this genre, in particular, lends itself to allowing them to express themselves in a more free-form and creative way while utilizing the writing process structure.
MBUSD Spotlight: Bob Everett

This week our spotlight features one of the members of Mira Costa’s security team. If you visit the school site, Bob Everett is a familiar face and member of the Mira Costa family who always greets everyone with a friendly smile.

Bob is a former police officer and began his career at MBUSD as a soccer coach and now has been part of campus security for five years as a volunteer. Bob says his favorite part of the job is taking care of the students and supporting them. Over the years, he has built relationships with the students and helps them if they ever need anything. One of his highlights during his career has been organizing the Beach Café during lunchtime.

He says that MBUSD has the most amazing teachers and smartest kids. In his free time, you may find him riding his motorcycle, hunting, and fishing!
Manhattan Beach Unified School District Joins the City of Manhattan Beach and the Manhattan Beach Police Department to Reaffirm Safe School Campuses

Together, MBUSD, the City of MB, and the MBPD have published a joint communication in the wake of the act of violence and tragedy that took place in Uvalde, Texas this week. When it comes to safety on our campuses, and the well-being of our students and staff, please know that it is a top priority and the implementation and continuous evaluation of actions and measures for the safety of our students. It is important for us to work together as a community to ensure our schools are safe. 

There are simple steps you can take today to keep our schools safe:

  • Stay connected with your children and monitor their social media activities and feeds.
  • Establish parent communication networks to discuss student/child safety in and outside of school.
  • Reach out to the principal, the Police Department, or other trained professionals if you see behavior that has the potential for causing self-harm or harm to others.
  • Ensure that if you own a firearm, it is locked up . . . it’s the law!
  • Take a moment to make sure that your children understand that any school threat, regardless of the intention, may result in serious criminal and civil charges, and life-long consequences.
  • Prepare your home and your family for an emergency. To learn more about how to be prepared, view the City’s Emergency Preparedness webpage.
  • If you hear or see something, say something! Please reinforce with your children the importance of reporting any concerns to a parent/guardian, teacher, or trusted adult. Please report safety concerns to your school or to the Manhattan Beach Police Department. If it is an emergency, call 9-1-1. If it is a non-emergency, but something that should be looked into, please call 310-545-4566. 

We ask for your help to continue to have discussions with your children on emphasizing a culture of kindness and inclusion at all of our school sites and to follow all daily safety procedures to keep our schools secure throughout the day. We will continue to do all we can to make sure our campuses are safe spaces where every child can learn and thrive. 
Grand View Modernization Project Reaches Milestone 

The construction site at Grand View is coming along! Balfour Beatty hosted a special celebration to recognize a major milestone at the school’s project site. The new 3-story multi-purpose building’s steel structure is near completion. 

MBUSD Board of Trustees members, District leadership, Balfour Beatty, and DLR Group staff were present for the signing of the steel beam that was later installed on the structure.

In early March, the new playfield at Grand View was unveiled. The project also includes a 2-story classroom building and improvements to facilities.

Thank you for the generous support of Manhattan Beach residents in passing Measure C in 2016 which has been instrumental in funding our school site modernization projects.

Visit here to learn about our Measure C projects.
Board of Trustees Member Jennifer Cochran signs steel beam
New Classroom at GV
Budget Corner

Like all California school districts, MBUSD is developing its 2022-23 budget during the months of May and June.

The annual District budget approval process involves a series of steps and is highly dependent upon the actions of the California State Legislature and Governor.

At our Board Budget Workshop meeting Thursday evening, staff provided a presentation about recent legislative developments in Sacramento that will inform the development of our 2022-23 MBUSD budget. Parents, staff, and community members were able to provide input on the development of next year’s budget (you can watch the Budget Workshop here), which included the potential impact of the additional revenue that the passage of the Measure A parcel tax on the June 7 ballot would bring to MBUSD.

Specific potential priorities for use of Measure A funds include: 

  • Hiring qualified and experienced teachers to help to maintain manageable class sizes and provide individualized instruction for students

  • Expanding course offerings, especially in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)

  • Keeping textbooks and other instructional materials, including digital resources and library collections, up-to-date

  • Providing additional mental health counseling and support for students

  • Providing professional development and collaboration time for all staff

During our June 1 Board meeting, we will work to continue finalizing the District budget. Our 2022-23 MBUSD budget is scheduled for review and adoption at our June 22 and June 23 Board meetings - I hope you can tune in to all of these meetings!
MCHS Grades of Green Club Wins Top Spot in Worldwide Competition

The club is one of 10 finalists who were selected by Grades of Green for developing and implementing a solution to the climate crisis as part of the organization’s RISE Climate Solutions Campaign.

Students participated in a year-long program, which guides teams of students through a four-phase leadership process to learn, plan, lead, and take action on a project in their communities to fight the climate crisis. The club had two main projects including a clothing swap event to raise awareness about the harms of fast fashion and textile waste and a clean-up event at the Redondo Beach King Harbor. 

450 students from across the world joined the Campaign and the Mira Costa Grades of Green club, led by 12th grader Samantha Torres, was named a top 10 finalist. At the Eco-Grant Award virtual ceremony this week, Mira Costa was awarded $250 for the “Greener Good” award. Congratulations!

MBUSD is a Green District and I’m so proud of our students who are thinking out of the box to make a lasting impact in our community.
Mira Costa Annual STEM Community Night

The annual Mira Costa Community STEM Night was one of a kind! Thanks to the Mira Costa Technology and Engineering Department, students had the opportunity to share with the community about their classes, clubs, and programs that have sparked their interest in the field of STEM. Leading companies, colleges, and community organizations participated in the event that took place at our high school athletic complex. It was also a learning opportunity for students and families to engage with everything STEM!

AP Chemistry students exhibited what they have learned in the classroom with an interactive display, while other students shared their robots and the world of virtual reality. A few of the guest companies included Chevron, Google, Northrop Grumman, and Lundquist Institute for Biomedical Innovation. There were special panels with topics ranging from STEM and social media to women in STEM.

It was truly a nice evening that depicted the strong programs we have to offer at all grade levels across our District. Special thanks to John and Janet Dargan for making this event possible.
Biotechnology Students Showcase Program

Students from Mira Costa’s Biotechnology course were proud to share their research and internship experiences with their families and staff during an open house. This marked the culmination of their work in the program. The 3-year Biotechnology elective offers a curriculum where students work within labs and can learn a multitude of laboratory skills and scientific concepts. The program assists students to prepare themselves for careers in STEM and also for college-level classes.
Mira Costa Choir Performs at the Los Angeles Sparks Game!

It wasn’t too long ago when Mira Costa’s Choir team had the opportunity to perform at the Los Angeles Kings game. Now they sang their hearts out at the Los Angeles Sparks game this week by performing the National Anthem!

5th Annual International Day

Students and families were able to travel the world by visiting 21 countries on International Day! In its 5th year, the event had food, music, and performances. It was an educational experience for all. You can watch our Facebook Live videos to watch some of the amazing performances that took place from traditional Indian dance to Capoeira Batuque, a Brazilian Martial Art.

Each booth was unique and was represented by our families. Thanks to everyone who made it possible, especially to our students and families who volunteered their time and resources to give attendees a glimpse of their culture!
Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

The #AAPI celebrations across our District continued this week! As part of Pennekamp’s activities, students learned about the various traditional Korean folk dances with percussion instruments. The opportunity to share this fantastic performance was made possible by one of our parents, Ashley Choibak, who is a Korean traditional dance teacher and Pennekamp parent! 
At Mira Costa, students hosted an assembly in honor of the month sharing food from different regions and educating their peers about the culture they represented.

Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) Spotlights Mira Costa Cheer Team Member: Ava Llorens
MCHS Bands Program Last Performance of the Year! Thursday, June 2

Support our Bands program by attending the 2022 Pops Concert, where students will perform music selections chosen by them. Congratulations to all of our students in Concert Bands, Jazz Bands, Marching Band, Colorguard, Winterguard, Indoor Drumline, and the Parade team. You should be very proud of all of your accomplishments this year.
Purchase Presale Tickets for Mira Costa Orchestras 20th Anniversary Celebration 

MBUSD families have the opportunity to purchase tickets starting May 29 before the general public.

Tickets are on sale online or you can call to purchase. The presale code is mbusdfam.

Click flyer for more information!
2022 Summer Expanded Learning Opportunities Interest Forms NOW Open

ELO Enrichment Interest Forms are open for grades TK-11. These are enriching courses taught by MBUSD teachers and staff on topics of their choice and interest. They are designed to spark students' excitement for learning and moving up to the next grade level.
Dates: June 27-July 21, 2022 | Monday-Thursday

MBUSD’s Transitional Kindergarten (TK) program promotes the joy of learning in a positive and nurturing environment. TK programming creates critical thinkers, effective oral communicators, and life-long learners. The classroom environment includes many opportunities for fine and gross motor activities, oral language development, and social-emotional learning. Our program prioritizes intentional teaching that is hands-on and child-centered, purposeful structured play, and small-group instruction.

All children who will be five years old as of September 1, 2022, are eligible to enroll in Kindergarten, and all children who will be five years old as of February 2, 2023, are eligible to enroll in Transitional Kindergarten.

Creating a Culture of Care In-Person and Online in MBUSD

As we continue to focus on the culture of care on our campuses and strive to have our schools be inclusive environments for all students, we are still facing unfortunate hate speech, anti-Semitism, and cyberbullying in our community.

Please see Principal Ahren’s letter from last week to the MBMS community here.

Most recently, we were made aware of Nazi swastikas etched onto school property at Grand View Elementary. Upon learning of this, the school administration quickly had it removed and reported it to the Manhattan Beach Police Department and the FBI. These incidents are unacceptable and remind us once again that we need to work together to have discussions with our students to denounce and speak up if they see or hear any type of hate messages or symbols. We also need to continue to share with them at home and at school that every individual should feel valued and respected. 

Anyone who has taken part in any type of hate crime will be held accountable for their actions. In our Board and school discipline policies, a variety of actions, up to suspension and the involvement of law enforcement, are consequences a student can face. Specific consequences cannot be shared for legal reasons.

MBUSD is committed to making sure we take the steps we see as necessary to ensure that students and staff on campus feel secure and supported. Through our Social Emotional Learning work, on-campus activities throughout the year that promote inclusion, and the work of our Care Committees at various school sites are essential in making a difference. 

I urge all of us to unite with our students and continue to teach our District values of developing a climate of care. MBUSD is committed to working with our students and our community to stand with our students who may feel targeted by these acts and to ensure that they know that they are valued, cared for, and supported. We are hopeful that these unfortunate incidents can lead to positive change within our school community, but this can only happen through fostering conversations at home and on campus.

We must improve our outreach and education. We must use these moments to educate our students on the context behind discriminatory, racist, and anti-Semitic actions, and why they are so hurtful. 

As part of our work to ensure a culture of care for our students and staff, MBUSD is taking several steps this year and for the launch of the 2022-23 school year:

  • A third group of school administrators, staff, and parent leaders are attending an in-service at the Museum of Tolerance next week. 

  • Plans are underway for the 2022-23 school year to involve the Museum of Tolerance and other local resources to combat anti-Semitism and hate in our community, whether on our physical campuses and classrooms or in the virtual environment. 

  • Adoption of the District’s Equity, Diversity, Social Justice, and Inclusion plan.

  • The in-person return of events such as International Day, the month of May’s Asian American and Pacific Island Heritage celebrations, a series of MCHS student club celebrations at Mustang Mall, and No Place for Hate activities at various elementary schools, and many others.

  • The MCHS library has reviewed and added over 40 new books focused on educating students about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism.

  • MBUSD is also set to add an important new core literature selection to our middle school reading list at the June 1 Board of Trustees meeting. Learn more about Maus and its recommended adoption when the Board agenda is published this weekend.

  • District and City leadership have visited the Jewish Cultural Club at MCHS, along with visits to a new MBMS Jewish Cultural Club launched earlier this spring.

  • The District is preparing to launch Bark, an additional tool to monitor student internet activity as well as a new reporting tool, Sprigeo, which will allow students and parents to easily report tips online.

With regard to social media and the internet, I ask all parents to discuss with your student(s) your family's expectations and rules for student use of social media and online behavior. Let's come together to reinforce responsible activity and how to be good digital citizens. Please review with them that there are consequences for unacceptable behavior, including suspension from school and the involvement of law enforcement. If you see unacceptable social media posts please report those to the app provider. Over the long Memorial Day weekend, we are asking all parents to sit down with your student(s) and review their google account, email, internet browsing locations, and digital content.

We know students contributing to these incidents are better than this conduct. I know together we can unite to be more welcoming and inclusive, and teach our students how to counter prejudice and racism when it occurs by speaking out. Thank you for continuing to dialogue with your students on these issues. 
Respond to Four MBUSD Questions

I have been asking students, staff, and MBUSD families the four questions below to learn more about our community. Thank you to those who have submitted responses. Your insights and ideas have been very informative!

If you have a moment, please send me your responses to [email protected]
US flags
The next Superintendent Newsletter will be published on Friday, June 3. 

Thank you again for your continued support and collaboration as we head into the final stretch of the school year. It has been amazing to see the recent student achievements across our District. As I continue to visit school sites, I see our staff stay committed to developing new and innovative ways to engage every student and foster a positive learning environment for our students to grow. 

Together we continue to grow and improve every day. I appreciate all of our staff, students, and families for helping keep our community safe and healthy. 

Amid a week of mourning and loss, let’s also pause on Memorial Day to remember United States military personnel who have died while serving in the United States armed forces. I wish everyone a safe and peaceful long weekend.
John Bowes, Ed.D.
MBUSD Superintendent
Manhattan Beach Unified School District

325 S. Peck Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266