Superintendent's Newsletter
October 17, 2019
I hope this finds you doing well. This newsletter is full of information related to our schools, our community, and the state. Thanks for taking the time to read it.
ELA Math graph
The state recently released all of the test scores for the CAASPP for the 2018-19 school year. I am thrilled to report that both our Language Arts scores and our Math scores increased yet again. This is the fifth year of testing with this new format, and MBUSD scores have shown a strong upward trend since the beginning. While we all recognize that standardized tests are only one data point in assessing a student's mastery of academic content standards, one of our Board’s goals is to improve our math scores, particularly in middle school and high school. I am proud to say our Math scores have risen at an even faster rate than our Language Arts scores. In the graph above, you’ll see that both ELA and Math scores were already very high during our first year of testing in 2015, but our Language Arts scores have consistently risen in the years since then, and our Math scores have risen at an even faster rate! We have closed the gap between ELA and Math, and we are now doing remarkably well in both. In fact, our combined Math and English scores are the 4th highest among unified school districts in the State. For our board presentation about our test scores, please click here . The bottom line is, our students are performing at higher levels than ever, and I am grateful for all of the hard work of our teachers and our students.
mbusd reserves
MBUSD Budget
As we officially close the books on the 2018-19 school year, and look forward to the next three years of our budget, I am, to put it bluntly, very concerned. At this point, to make the budget work for the next three years, we will need to reduce spending by over $2 million next year and another $2 million in the following year. In a district that spends about 85% of its funds on people, that means that our employees will be affected by these reductions. This should not come as a shock to most people, as I have written about this to you before.

Back in 2015 we saw a need for 27 layoffs. The voters of Manhattan Beach staved off those layoffs by passing Measure MB, and gave us a two-year reprieve on projected additional layoffs. The reprieve is now at an end. The bottom line is that revenues are flattening while expenses continue to rise. Our retirement costs, salary costs, and health benefit costs, along with special education cost increases are far out-pacing the modest increases in state revenue. That is a recipe for deficit spending. Our Board has been seeing our reserves diminish year after year. As you can see in the chart above, we have gone from about a 28% reserve in 2012 to less than a 10% reserve as we enter this year.

I have assembled a team of board members, district leaders, parent leaders and employee leaders to examine our budget. Their task is to present a variety of options to the Board as we begin planning the 2020-21 budget. Our Board will be holding a workshop on January 15, 2020 to discuss these options. As we provide documents for this group to review, I will keep all of those documents on a District webpage which you can find here . I particularly encourage you to read Dr. Murakawa-Leopard’s budget narrative.

We are a community that wants it all, and I love us for that. We want high-performing students. We want to foster a culture of care for our students. We want to offer strong core classes and incredible elective opportunities for our students. Our task is to figure out how we continue to do all of that in the face of these budget obstacles. That is no easy task. I will keep you posted, but I did want everyone to know that these are the budget challenges facing us as plan for the next school year.
yellow clock
For the second year in a row, State Senator Anthony Portantino of San Marino introduced a bill requiring all secondary schools in the state to start school later. Last year, MBUSD was the only district in the state to support this bill. Our Board endorsed the bill and has written letters on behalf of the bill for two years now. The later start is something that our Medical Advisory Board , a group of doctors and medical professionals from our community, has been supporting for seven years . You can see an article on the bill details here , but the bottom line is that implementation is required by the 2022-23 school year. We will start working with our teachers on this implementation, and I will keep you posted on where it is going. Changes to the schedule ned to be negotiated through our union contract, and our next opportunity to make changes to the contract will occur in 2021-22. I applaud our Medical Advisory Board, our School Board, our Legislature, and Governor for passing this measure, and I look forward to implementing it as early as 2021-22.
On Saturday we held our 4th annual International Day outside of our District Office. This is an event organized by our parents of English learners in the District to promote understanding and celebration of all of the cultures of families here in Manhattan Beach. There were dozens of booths full of cultural artifacts and culinary treats. My thanks to all of our parents who made this happen. For more information see the coverage by DigMB .
Skechers walkers
For years, I have informed our community about the Skechers Pier to Pier Friendship Walk. We had so many more of us participate last year, and I hope it grows even more this year. Our MBUSD community should wholeheartedly support this event. Let's look at the reasons why:
  • The Friendship Foundation supports some amazing students in our schools. It provides friendships, social supports, and it truly changes lives.
  • The Friendship Foundation embodies everything about our Inclusion Pledge. If you believe in that, you believe in the Friendship Foundation.
  • The sponsors in this event help the Friendship Foundation, and every other donation and registration from MBUSD and Manhattan Beach supports MBEF.
  • Our numbers last year were higher than ever and I believe we can do even better this year.
  • Even if you can't participate, you can be a "virtual walker," paying a $30 registration fee and sending the message that this is important to our community.
The Skechers Pier to Pier Friendship Walk is an important event for our community, and for our schools. Participation says a lot about who we are and what we stand for. So, please. Let's improve on last year's participation level. Sign yourself up. Sign up your family. Let's get to a really, really high number this year.
To sign up as a registered OR virtual walker, click o n your team:

Flu vaccinations
The Health Department will be at the MBUSD District Office Board Room administering flu vaccines for free:

  • Where: 325 South Peck Ave Manhattan Beach
  • When: Wednesday October 30, 2019 from 1 pm – 4 pm
If you've read this far, thank you! Have a great rest of your October.
Mike Matthews
MBUSD Superintendent
Manhattan Beach Unified School District

325 S. Peck Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266