Ballot Offers a Chance to Fix Schools

By Dave Fratello | November 4th, 2016

Schools and local real estate are intimately related.

So let's take a quick look at our local election ballot, where the schools take center stage.

The Manhattan Beach ballot hosts two related items: Measures C & EE. These are bonds to pay to repair & rebuild school facilities at all levels district-wide. It's truly an opportunity to be excited about – unless, for some reason, you don't grasp how urgent these measures are.

Who has not wondered how and why tony Manhattan Beach asks its kids to slog through each school day in outdated facilities, with obvious design problems, lack of classroom space and deferred maintenance barely papered over by fresh paint?

Isn't the Manhattan Beach school system a major draw of our town? Isn't the success of the schools a solid foundation for property values? Of course.

Who's going to do something about it? Maybe you?

The Manhattan Beach Unified School District looked at the whole set of needs and came up with a repair & replacement master plan. It's less ambitious than it could be, but it will get the job done, improving elementaries, the middle school and the high school. Measures C & EE would carry out the most important parts of the master plan, improving safety & security and modernizing every school where it's most needed.

The biggest eyesore to be addressed is athletic facilities at the high school. (See "Mira Costa Gym Shows Its Age," from It's not the biggest-ticket item, but it's perhaps the easiest case to see where modernization is long overdue.

If you haven't seen the high school gym facilities, trust us, you'd rather not know what we put our kids through. Cramped, outdated (65 years+) and largely beyond repair, the indoor gyms include one whose floors look like they've been through a war – which, thanks to persistent roof leaks, they almost have been – and another that is woefully inadequate. You see some of the damage and issues with the leaky-roof issues in DigMB's video below (some email and mobile visitors will need to use this link instead).

Spectators for home volleyball and basketball games share a single, small restroom with players from both teams back over in the locker rooms. Dozens and sometimes hundreds of people are turned away from highly popular matchups because the gym can't hold enough spectators.

Virtually no one – PE student, local athlete or visitor – has taken a shower at the Mira Costa gym for more than 30 years, because the sad-sack shower facilities were too small and broken to consider using. In the girls' gym, the former shower stalls are now storage areas and – get this – makeshift stationary-bike gym facilities. (Nowhere else to go.) Trainers handling all the boys' sports work from two tables in a severely cramped room that also hosts large laundry machines, ice makers and filing cabinets. The issues go on and on.

In real estate, one would casually declare these obsolete buildings "scrapers," make a date with a bulldozer and expect something new and modern to replace them.

The scene across the board is appalling, the kind of gross-out that most people would rather ignore completely... plug your ears, cover your eyes and hope it all goes away.

For almost the whole year, almost every year, you should feel free to put out of mind the troubles with our hometown schools.

You should feel free to put out of mind one hugely embarrassing stat: Hermosa Beach high school-age students, who once overwhelmingly chose Mira Costa, instead by a 3-to-1 margin now choose Redondo Union high school instead.

Forget all of that. Don't think about it twice.

AFTER you vote.

Because you can actually do something by focusing on this issue one time, one day, to make a difference.

Do your part. Yes on C & EE.

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