THANK YOU so much again for your tremendous support for the MBUSD music program, and your recent heartfelt letters and public comments to the school board. Over 350 students, parents and supporters have spoken, loud and clear, on how much they value music education in our community and how critical it is that we not only preserve but grow the music program for its lasting and profound impact on our students’ lives. You can view these letters here.
In response, the Board voted on April 15th to form an MBUSD Board Music Subcommittee to review Dr. Benham’s Status Report in detail, explore potential changes imperative to maintaining a high-caliber, accessible and inclusive music program, and recommend important action steps to the Board in due course, no later than December 2020.
While we applaud and value the work in progress of the Board Music Subcommittee, it has become apparent that there are other forces at play that demand our immediate attention and support:
Any questions, please feel free to email us @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, thank you for your generous and kind support! We are stronger together.
The purpose of Public Comments is to permit members of the public to provide a statement to the MBUSD Board of Trustees on items on the agenda. Since Board Meetings are now held virtually, persons wishing to address the Board regarding an item on the board agenda may submit a public comment, limited to approximately 400 words (3-minute equivalent). Comments are then posted online and read out loud at the meeting as time permits.
A record number of Public Comments (561) were submitted to the Board for the 4-15-20 MBUSD Board Meeting. The majority of them were related to the proposed Music Program cuts. Another 132 (of which half were Music-related) were submitted for the Special Board Meeting on 5-29-20 despite having less than 48 hours notice of the meeting itself!
The Public Comments for these meetings can be read using the link below.
The Board has approved the creation of a board subcommittee examining the K-12 Music Program in the Manhattan Beach Unified School District, with the following charges:
The Committee will be comprised of:
The funding for our award-winning Music Program comes from four main sources:
The District funds about 39% of the the total cost of the Music program, with MBEF contributing another 36%, for a total of about 75%. The remaining 25% or so is funded directly by parents.
The district and MBEF together fund almost all of the direct costs of music instruction, such as teacher salaries, as well as most of the other costs related to the Elementary Schools Program. Together, that amounts to around $1 million annually. This year, according to the MBEF website "MBEF funded 48% of [direct] music instruction in Grades 1-12" with an annual grant of about $500,000, which represents under 10% of the current overall MBEF grant. It is noteworthy that when MBEF was founded in 1983, its primary purpose was to enrich existing programs such as art and music.
The rest of the operational expenses such as sheet music, music licensing, instructors, clinicians, coaches, competition & festival entry fees and related expenses, large instruments, instrument repairs, equipment, interactive music software, supplies, marching band uniforms, transportation, and much more are funded by parents and community supporters – directly through the various Booster Clubs in High School and through parent donations in Middle and Elementary schools; and indirectly through the various PTSA/PTA's.
Overall, parents contribute around a quarter of the overall funding (around $325,000) of the Music Programs in the District. For the Middle and High Schools this direct parent funding rises to almost 40% of those programs' costs.
See Funding for greater detail.
Overall, the Board has approved cuts in the funding of the District Music Programs of around $215,000 or over 20% of what the District/MBEF directly funds.
These cuts were approved in two stages:
A total of $3.6MM in total cuts have been approved for 2020-21, accounting for 40.2 FTE (32.7 Certificated and 7.4 Classified) positions.
For further detail, visit the District's Budget News and Information webpage.
The Administration has forecast an unprecedented drop (252 students - almost 4%) in next year's District enrollment and beyond which will cause State LCFF revenues to be substantially flat or even fall over the next 3 years.
The 2020-21 forecast is more than 3 times the average annual drop in enrollment over the past 3 years and twice as large as any one year drop over the past decade. For comparison, our neighboring districts of Redondo Beach and Palos Verdes Peninsula are forecasting zero decline in enrollment and ADA next year. Hermosa Beach forecasts losing 26 students which represents about half of MBUSD’s forecast in percentage terms. El Segundo is forecasting a drop of 7 enrolled students or less than 10% of what MBUSD is forecasting in percentage terms.
Redondo Beach and El Segundo have actually increased enrollment over the past 3 years while PV has had the exact same average annual % drop (1.25%) as Manhattan Beach over those same 3 years. Furthermore, isn’t the new Athletic Complex supposed to make Mira Costa more competitive in attracting Hermosa and North Redondo students?
At the same time, expenditures are projected to continue to rise, resulting in budget deficits that would cause the District's reserves to shrink or disappear if further expenditure cuts are not made. Overall, the District expects that over $7.5MM in expenditure cuts will need to be made over the next two years in order to maintain the State-mandated reserves of 3%.
It is good to be conservative, especially in the current environment. However, remember that all forecasts on enrollment/ADA numbers were made before the Coronavirus crisis so should be judged in that light. If the Board decides that it's prudent to plan for a higher level of reserves than the minimum at this time, that is clearly its prerogative. But credibility in forecasting should be maintained.
For further detail, see the 2019-20 Second Interim Budget Report.
It is critical to the future of the music program in MBUSD that we face these realities head on, educate the Board of Trustees about why music programs present unique fiscal and social/emotional advantages, and plan for what we know is coming.
We believe that the music program hits all the right notes: Fiscal Responsibility, Social/Emotional Wellness, Enhanced Academic Performance (across all subjects) and Accessibility for All. While this was true before, it is even more so if indeed we are facing larger cuts than originally estimated, given the current environment.
A consortium of parents have commissioned a report from a national music education expert, Dr. John Benham, to examine these budget cuts, assess the status of MBUSD music program, and propose clear, proven solutions to the current issues.
We know that many are concerned about the future of the music program, are interested in staying informed about these issues, or want to lend your voice in support of these efforts. To that end, we hosted a virtual Town Hall via Zoom, on Saturday, April 4th. 2020, which was open to interested MBUSD music parents and students, to learn about our efforts. Dr. Benham led the discussion and shared what he has gleaned so far. Over 200 parents, teachers, students and community members participated in the Town Hall!
This report provides data-supported and research-driven in-depth evaluation and analysis of the MBUSD music program, and highlights important issues in the program along with strategic and structural recommendations. It is our goal to collaboratively resolve these issues in partnership with the District Administration and the School Board.
We hope you will review this report and help champion the unified efforts of choir, band and orchestra families to save and strengthen our music program for all our students, families, and the wider community. This report will also be made available on the Mira Costa Band, Choir and Orchestra Boosters websites.
It is important to underscore our belief that this is not about “saving” the music program at the expense of other, equally important, programs. Rather it is about shining a light on the fact that the “us or them” mindset is a false dichotomy, one that we buy into at our detriment. We are interested in engaging in a much broader look at how our District functions, asking critical questions from that wider perspective, and reimagining when and where appropriate.
We can’t engage in that higher perspective without reliable information and a clear understanding. To that end, the report looks at all aspects of how the music program functions in our district and provides critical, research-based, data-driven, factual information necessary for a comprehensive understanding, thoughtful discussion, and informed decision concerning the District’s music program. The report proposes clear, proven solutions to some or all of the issues that currently exist with respect to the music program.
At their April 15, 2020 meeting, the MBUSD School Board appointed a "Board subcommittee to review participation and enrollment in MBUSD music programs". Click here for further details.