Greenberg appointed to the MBUSD school board

MBUSD Superintendent John Bowes administers the oath of office to new trustee Bruce Greenberg. Photo by Kevin Cody

by Mark McDermott 

Bruce Greenberg was appointed to the Manhattan Beach Unified School District at a special meeting Wednesday afternoon. Greenberg will fill the vacancy left by Jason Boxer, who resigned in January. 

The board chose an appointment process over a special election due to its cost, which the LA County Registrar estimated at $879,000. Six candidates vied for the position. Each filed extensive applications, due at the end of last week, and then faced the fraught challenge of making their cases in a series of two-minute answers before the school board. 

Board president Cathey Graves acknowledged the difficulty of the appointment process. 

“I would of course prefer for this process to happen in an election,” Graves said. “I think we probably would all prefer that, but we have a responsibility as a board to be fiscally responsible, and that would not be fiscally responsible. Making an appointment is the fiscally responsible thing. But I think that weighs really heavy on all of us as board members.” 

The six candidates offered a broad array of experiences. 

Michael Brunick is a technology and communications professional who is currently a senior vice president at Yahoo. He is a Manhattan Beach native and MBUSD alum who has volunteered extensively in local schools. 

Dina Sayegh Doll is an attorney, and the founder of her own firm, as well as a legal analyst and journalist. James Myrtle is a biotechnology scientist and chemistry teacher, and an immigrant whose rags-to-riches story began in Compton. Nathalie Rosen is a newcomer to Manhattan Beach who has worked as a bookkeeper and paralegal and was the president of the parent committee in a French immersion school in Los Angeles. Carrie Wetsch is a Manhattan Beach native who helped establish MBUSD’s Special Education Advisory Committee. 

Greenberg, a technology business executive with an MBA from Duke and an undergraduate history degree from Dartmouth, was the first of the candidates to face the board. His knowledge of the district and well-articulated business acumen clearly dazzled the board. When asked to identify a board decision he felt strongly about, he demonstrated a precise knowledge of district finances. 

“I think the most important decision that the board makes, year after year, is the budget,” Greenberg said. “We have a $91-plus million dollar budget, and the decisions are made in this boardroom about the budget are a statement of our priorities. There are no easy decisions in budget making. I mean, 20 years in the private sector, every company and every organization has a budget, and every budget is a tough decision about the allocation of scarce resources, and everything is a trade-off. I get that it’s a fixed pie, and the dollar that’s allocated to one program or one department is a dollar that doesn’t get allocated to another department or program.” 

MBUSD Superintendent John Bowes distributes ballot to school
board members. Photo by Kevin Cody

Greenberg identified facilities and maintenance as an area where things could be improved. He’s the MBUSD representative on the City’s Parks and Recreation Committee, and demonstrated detailed knowledge of school facilities. 

“Our community is investing a lot of money through Measure EE and Measure C into upgrading our facilities,” he said. “As a board, we have a duty of stewardship to maintain these facilities as if they were our own. None of us would buy an expensive home in Manhattan Beach and then defer critical maintenance. And unfortunately within our budget, we have almost $10 million in critically deferred maintenance on facilities. And I think and I’m concerned that we’re investing $150 million…We need to maintain these facilities for the long term. Otherwise, we’re making decisions that are pennywise and pound foolish.” 

Brunick, who ran for school board in 2020 and finished 300 votes short of Boxer, likewise displayed a hyper-articulate, deep knowledge of the district, easily touching on emerging learning models as well as the district’s budgetary needs. He was a leader for the 2019 parcel tax and spoke of the urgent need to pass a new tax before that measure expires. 

“Measure MB is set to sunset 2024 and a renewal will have to be considered,” he said. “We will be looking at a negative impact to the MBUSD budget. I have personal experience with what it takes to evaluate and execute a successful parcel tax initiative.” 

The voting was done by ballot at the dais. In the first round, the trustees were asked to vote for two candidates. Greenberg earned votes from all four trustees, Brunick received three votes, and Wetsch received a single vote. The second round of balloting was narrowed to the two top candidates. The board then decided to ask Greenberg and Brunick additional questions. Afterward, Greenberg prevailed in a 3-1 vote. He was sworn in immediately and participated as a trustee in Wednesday night’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Newly appointed trustee Bruce Greenberg talks with Michael Brunick, who was a finalist. Photo by Kevin Cody


Greenberg and fellow candidate Dina Sayegh Doll chat after the appointment proceedings.


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