Manhattan Beach School District ranks 6th in the nation

Forbes magazine last week ranked the Manhattan Beach Unified School District sixth in the nation on its second annual “Best Schools for Your Real Estate Buck” list.

Results were published in Forbes’ April 26 online issue, in a list described as “a look at the places in America where your housing dollar will go the furthest in getting your children a great education.”

“That came out of nowhere,” said MBUSD Superintendent Michael Matthews. “It was one of those unbelievably delightful surprises.”

The publication scored districts in 17,589 towns in 49 states based on standardized test scores and the progress of randomly selected students, ranking MBUSD the highest among districts in areas where median home prices exceed $800,000. The school district in the affluent town of Falmouth, Maine, with a median home price of $351,550, took first place on the Forbes list.

“The resulting lists once again demolish the idea that more money equals better schools,” reads the Forbes article. “Falmouth’s performance outshone that of big-dollar school districts like Manhattan Beach, Calif., and New Canaan, Conn., both of which have median house prices above $1.1 million yet scored sixth and 19th, respectively, on an absolute scale. In fact, towns with homes costing between $200,000 to $399,000 represented a sweet spot in the list, grabbing more schools in the Top Ten than any other grouping.”

“That shows that if you’re from an area of high housing prices, it’s harder to get on that list,” Matthews said.

New Canaan came in second among districts in areas where median home prices exceed $800,000, though Nick Williams, chairman of the New Canaan Board of Education, still can’t seem to let go of reaching number one.

“[Manhattan Beach] may have better surfing, but if I read the break correctly, we have a better school system,” Williams humorously remarked to The Daily New Canaan last week.

The honor came two weeks after State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson named Mira Costa High School one of 97 public middle and high schools selected as a 2011 California Distinguished School.

The recognition program, in its 25th year, honors the state’s most outstanding and inspiring public schools with the award; Costa joins more than 5,300 public schools that have been awarded the honor since the program began.

“It’s more and more of a big deal,” Matthews said of Costa’s recognition. “It relies on test scores and every group must continue to improve. When you’ve been improving for seven years, it’s hard to keep improving. We were fortunate [Costa] made a big rise last year.”

Costa principal Ben Dale praised the community’s connection to the school for contributing to its success.

“We constantly and continually feel love and support from parent, business, and civic organizations,” Dale said.

Both distinctions were based in part on the Academic Performance Index (API), a composite measure of student testing results. The district as a whole ranked third in the state on API scores last school year, with Mira Costa showing the biggest increase in scores of all schools in the district. ER


comments so far. Comments posted to may be reprinted in the Easy Reader print edition, which is published each Thursday.

Be an Easy Reader Free Press supporter!

Yes, we know Easy Reader and are free. But they are not free to produce. The advertiser model that traditionally supported newspapers is fading away. This is our way of transitioning to a future where newspapers are supported by their readers. Which is as it should be. We hope you’ll support us. — Kevin Cody, Publisher