Tag Archives: BUSD

Burbank Schools Develop Digital Media And Manufacturing Programs

Burbank city and school officials, along with executives from Burbank studios, attended the Verdugo Creative Technology Consortium (VCTC) reception Wednesday, October 29, at Glendale Community College.

The event celebrated the recent announcement of a six million dollar grant from the State of California to fund development of digital media and manufacturing programs for area students.

“We are collaborating with local industry leaders to develop pathway programs that prepare students for workforce needs in digital media and digital manufacturing fields,” said Dr. David Viar, president of Glendale Community College.

Eric Simkin (mOcean), Carrie Brown (BAFA), John Paramo (BUSD), Zita Lefebvre (Cartoon Network), Peggy Flynn (BUSD), Lisa Rawlins (Warner Bros.), Superintendent Dr. Jan Britz (BUSD), Charlene Tabet (Board of Education), Sharon Cuseo (BUSD), Burbank City Manager Mark Scott, Kimberley Clark (BUSD), Burbank Mayor Dr. David Gordon and Dave Kemp (Board of Education) celebrate the kick off of the Verdugo Creative Technologies Consortium.(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Eric Simkin (mOcean), Carrie Brown (Burbank Arts For All Foundation), John Paramo (BUSD), Zita Lefebvre (Cartoon Network), Peggy Flynn (BUSD), Lisa Rawlins (Warner Bros.), Superintendent Dr. Jan Britz (BUSD), Charlene Tabet (Board of Education), Sharon Cuseo (BUSD), Burbank City Manager Mark Scott, Kimberley Clark (BUSD), Burbank Mayor Dr. David Gordon and Dave Kemp (Board of Education) celebrate the kick off of the Verdugo Creative Technologies Consortium.(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“We need local entertainment and manufacturing companies to provide mentors, internships and a variety of other opportunities that allow our students to develop new skills, expand their list of achievements and build relationships with professionals,” he added.

Burbank Mayor Dr. David Gordon, City Manager Mark Scott and City Treasurer Debbie Kukta joined BUSD Superintendent Dr. Jan Britz, Board of Education members Charlene Tabet, Dave Kemp and president Dr. Roberta Reynolds and BUSD administrators at the event.

They were joined by Lisa Rawlins from Warner Bros. Studios, Zita Lefebvre from Cartoon Network and Eric Simkin of mOcean. Those movie and digital media studios, along with Nickelodeon Animation Studios have agreed to partner with Burbank Unified School District in developing classes that teach skills necessary for the twenty-first century workplace.

Burbank Unified’s Director of Instruction and Accountability Sharon Cuseo detailed more of Burbank schools and businesses partnership with the VCTC in an previously published interview with myBurbank.

Eric Simkin of mOcean, Lisa Rawlin of Warner Bros. Studios and Zita Lefebvre of Cartoon Network partner with Burbank Unified School District to develop tech and arts savvy classes. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Eric Simkin of mOcean, Lisa Rawlin of Warner Bros. Studios and Zita Lefebvre of Cartoon Network partner with Burbank Unified School District to develop tech and arts savvy classes. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Cuseo organized the Burbank part of the VCTC partnership, while Robert Mejia from the Verdugo Workforce Investment Board (VWIB) put the entire grant application together. BUSD and VWIB joined Glendale Unified School District, California State University at Northridge and Glendale Community College to create the VCTC.

“Last night was a great kick off for the work we want to do as a consortium,” commented Cuseo. “It gives us the opportunity to establish greater partnerships between all the partners and the community.”

“The potential for Burbank students and local business is exciting,” she added.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) has been a popular buzzword in education for years. Recently, many educators and businesses have emphasized the need for an Arts, or creative, component to learning, technology and manufacturing, making the buzzword now STEAM.

“Technical skills applied creatively generate the kinds of innovation that sustain local economic development,” Viar also said. “Our goal is not to ask high school students to declare their life long career at 14. Instead our goal is to provide students with foundational skills that enable them to make choices.”

Verdugo Creative Technologies Consortium Kicks Off Partnership

Staff and teachers from the Burbank Unified School District and representatives from local studio and creative media partners including Warner Bros., Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and mOcean help kick off the Verdugo Creative Technologies Consortium Wednesday evening, October 29, at Glendale Community College.

BUSD logoThey join staff from Glendale Unified School District, California State University at Northridge, Glendale Community College, the Verdugo Workforce Investment Board and several other digital manufacturing and media businesses to celebrate the development of school and industry partnerships aimed at better preparing students with skills for the 21st century.

The group of schools – BUSD, GUSD, CSUN and GCC – the VWIB and local industry partners applied as a cohort for a California Career Pathways Trust Grant as the Verdugo Creative Technologies Consortium (VCTC.) The VCTC was announced as a grantee in July 2014.

Over the five years of the grant, the VCTC will receive six million dollars from the state to fund digital media and manufacturing programs at the high school and college level. Burbank Unified will receive 1.4 million of those funds based on its relative size to other partners in the group, explained Burbank Unified Director of Instruction and Accountability, Sharon Cuseo.

Industry partners will provide additional enrichment, resources and job shadowing for students, added Cuseo.

Grant funds will help BUSD buy industry standard software and computers and pay for professional development, she said. Industry partners, such as Nickelodeon also have donated Cintiqs and other computers for use in the schools as well.

“We’ll have the industry partners come in and help us with the curriculum development,” commented Cuseo. “So that they can make sure that we are teaching the skills they would like to see in their employees.”

While BUSD has some digital media classes in place at the three high schools and plans to add additional classes, the focus is on upgrading the curriculum to utilize more sophisticated computers and software like those in use at Warner Bros., Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and mOcean currently. The district’s digital media pathway for students begins at all three middle schools.

Digital manufacturing is an important component of the grant and BUSD staff and teachers are also working on programs including engineering, robotics and other STEM subjects. Cuseo indicated that Glendale Unified and Clark Magnet High School are assisting with the development of STEM-related programs in BUSD.

“Manufacturing will actually take more time because we have to develop that program,” explained Cuseo. “We don’t have anything in place.”

“We want to thank and acknowledge our business partners for participating in this,” Cuseo also said. “That support is really what helped us get the grant in the first place.”

“They have always donated generously in terms of materials and supplies,” continued Cuseo. “This [partnership] is really more so that we are teaching what they need and that our students can have those opportunities to maybe intern with them – not at the beginning because they won’t have the skills but as [students] get further along the pathway and they have those skills, they can go there and intern and really learn about the careers in the field.”


JBHS Principal Moves To BUSD Administration

Current John Burroughs High School principal, John Paramo, was recently named Director of Secondary Education for the Burbank Unified School District at the October 16 Board of Education meeting.

Paramo replaces Emilio Urioste, who just took over duties as Director of Burbank Adult School and Career Technical Education for the district.

Burroughs High School counselor Sheila Masters and Principal John Paramo announce senior Brennan Flynn's (center) selection for National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. (Photo Courtesy John Burroughs High School)

Burroughs High School counselor Sheila Masters and Principal John Paramo announce senior Brennan Flynn’s (center) selection for National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. (Photo Courtesy John Burroughs High School)

In a call to all JBHS student homes and in an announcement to students at school on Monday, October 20, Paramo emphasized that he will remain as principal for JBHS and on site daily for the next few weeks, until a replacement principal has been chosen.

“Until the next principal is selected, you will see me at Burroughs everyday engaged in my normal duties,” he said. “I plan to savor the time I have left with the school community, particularly our students.”

“It has been an honor and a distinct pleasure for me to have served all of you the last two years,” Paramo continued. “I will never forget the support I received and the memories I was able to create. I am a blessed man.”

Paramo taught English for 10 years at Don Bosco Technical Institute and served as a counselor and Director of Student Activities. He left private school education to teach English in both El Monte and Baldwin Park. Paramo moved to administration during his final year in Baldwin Park, serving as Dean of Students and overseeing discipline.

Paramo began in 2005 as BUSD’s Assistant Principal in Guidance and Counseling and Assistant Principal of Instruction at John Burroughs High School. In 2010, Paramo moved to John Muir Middle School as principal for two years and started the Title I Program that exists today.

In 2012, Paramo became principal at John Burroughs High School and assisted closely with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation for the high school.

While Paramo and his family live in Pasadena, his son Ethan is a fifth-grader at Stevenson Elementary. Paramo will receive his Doctorate in Education from USC in December.

“John has a passion for curriculum and instruction and he is excited to take on this new role,” commented Kimberley Clark, Burbank Unified Public Information Officer. “We wish John the very best as he takes on this new challenge.”

Over the next several weeks, the school community of JBHS will have to opportunity to provide input on the selection of the new principal, with more information to be released about that process by the district.

Burbank Unified District Testing Discussed

The Burbank Unified School District continues to prepare for Smarter Balance testing of the new Common Core national standards in the spring of 2015. While some district-wide tests have been dropped, other assessments will continue to be given to students, including writing prompts in elementary and secondary schools and baseline tests to provide data for the LCAP plan.

BUSD Logo“We do expect lower scores across the board to start but we do expect to show growth pretty quickly,” BUSD Director of Instruction and Accountability Sharon Cuseo told Board of Education members.

“Because it’s going to be widespread across the state, it’s not a reflection of our teachers or students at all,” she said. “It’s just a reflection on the testing instrument itself. I think that’s really important for parents to hear.”

Cuseo also noted that Smarter Balance testing will occur in March, April and part of May, to accommodate the much longer time needed for students to complete the test. Students in grades three through five will spend four hours on the English Language Arts section and three hours on the Math section.

Students in grades six through eight will need four hours for English Language Arts and three-and-a-half for Math. Eleventh graders need four-and-a-half hours for ELA and four for Math.

“That’s a lot of testing,” Cuseo said. “You shouldn’t really test more than two to three hours per day.”

All students in the same grade level across the district will take the adaptive Common Core Smarter Balance test in the same window of time. The recently purchased carts of Chromebooks will help the district achieve these goals, along with the support of the BUSD technology staff.

Limited district assessments in science, social science and health will remain similar to years previously, for now.

Teachers have had to change the pacing of their instruction schedules and test content, since they require more time to get through the material to align with Common Core standards.

“As you know with Common Core, everything kind of got turned upside down and we have to redo everything we are doing in instruction, from assessments to curriculum to textbooks,” Cuseo explained.


Burbank School Superintendent Jan Britz to Retire

Dr. Jan Britz announced today through a press release that she will be stepping down at the end of the school year as head of the Burbank School District.

Dr Jan Britz. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Dr Jan Britz. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Dr. Britz is finishing her 40th year in education in June, 2015. She has served as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, human resources director, assistant superintendent, and superintendent. She has taught in both private and public school systems from grade 4 through college level. Dr. Britz says the highlight of all her years as an educator is the honor of ending her career as the Superintendent of the Burbank Unified School District.

During her tenure in Burbank, the District struggled through the worst financial crisis in California without impacting student learning. BUSD is a leading District in the state in student achievement. It is a tradition in BUSD to provide high-quality education to students. The parents and the community expect this.

Dr. Britz shares that education is changing and it’s time for new leadership in BUSD. In the last year, funding for education has changed from revenue limit dollars to Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). In addition, the schools across the nation are making big changes in teaching and learning by implementing Common Core Standards in grades K-12. This curriculum change means a comprehensive multi-year professional development program for teachers and new instructional materials for students.

Working collaboratively with the Board of Education and District administration, Dr. Britz has brought new programs and changes that support the needs at the schools:

  • Transitional Kindergarten
  • Junior Kindergarten
  • Middle School World Language
  • Independent Learning Academy
  • P.E. Credit for Band and Choir
  • Math Intervention
  • Standardized RtI as a Best Practice
  • Accelerated Reading Program at All Elementary Schools
  • District Math Field Day
  • District Career Tech Awards Program
  • CAHSEE Intervention Classes
  • High School Online Credit Courses with Brigham Young University
  • District Online Credit Recovery Courses for High School
  • High School Online Summer School
  • Dual Credit: High School and College for Woodbury University Courses in Visual Arts
  • Monthly Assistant Principal Meetings
  • Weekly Principal Newsletters
  • Supply Epinephrine Injectors in All Nurses’ Offices
  • Automated External Defibrillators in All Schools, District Office, and District Service Centers
  • Aspiring Administrators Academy

Under Dr. Britz’s leadership, the District also passed Measure S, a $110 million General Obligation bond for technology, building renovations (HVAC, roofing), portables, and energy-efficiency projects.

In 2007, former BUSD Superintendent Dr. Greg Bowman and former City Manager Mary Alvord brought together the school district, the City, and the community to fund a multi-million dollar field renovation project. Dr. Britz was selected to facilitate a string of partnerships with the District and the City to implement this project for funding, for construction, and for usage. The field renovation project included installation of artificial turf on the football field at Burbank High School and Memorial Field at John Burroughs High School and an all-weather track for both schools. Youth Endowment Services funds were used to renovate the Jordan Middle School athletic field. This joint project initiated a 50-year Joint Use Agreement between the school district and the City of Burbank.

Burbank is an incredible community. I wish to thank everyone in Burbank for all you do for our students. Working in BUSD is a privilege and an honor which I will continue to enjoy until the school year ends. I am committed to give 100% from now until I actually retire and help with the transition for new leadership. This announcement gives the Board of Education some time to plan, advertise, and hire a new superintendent.

Keyboarding Program Approved For BUSD Grades K-8

After the Burbank Unified Board of Education approved the purchase of mobile Chromebook carts, the members unanimously agreed to put the UltraKey 6 keyboarding program at the fingertips of students at every district elementary and middle school.

BUSD logoDistrict officials are able to use Microsoft Voucher Funds to pay for licensing the 14-site program, with a one-time cost of $13,737.

“The other thing that our students need to do is to not only have access to a computer but be able to use that computer,” commented Sharon Cuseo, BUSD Director of Instruction and Accountability, after the Chromebook carts were approved. “We haven’t had keyboarding, really, in our schools as a regular part of the curriculum, so our students need practice.”

The UltraKey 6 keyboarding program approved for BUSD is web-based, so parents can help students at home or the library. Students will be able to practice keyboarding outside of school.

All 11 elementary and three middle schools are slated to incorporate UltraKey 6 into the school program.

Burbank Unified had nearly half a million dollars in Microsoft Voucher Funds, explained Charles Poovakan, Director of Information Technology and Educational Support, after a lawsuit resulted in Microsoft paying out vouchers to school districts that could be redeemed for Microsoft software or similar such programs.

After purchasing the Accelerated Reader program and UltraKey 6, BUSD will still have more than $200,000 remaining in voucher funds.

“I know we have a lot of consternation, especially at the elementary level, of how the students are going to be taking these tests and typing,” commented Board of Education President Dr. Roberta Reynolds, referring to the Common Core Smarter Balance testing scheduled for spring 2015. “So, this is a good thing.”

UltraKey 6 keyboarding program is a highly-rated tutorial, ranked as one of the top programs for teaching keyboarding skills and isolating various types of errors in order to help students learn. The manufacturer states that students as young as six can effectively use the program and it emphasizes proper typing technique and accuracy.


School Board Approves Purchase Of Chromebooks

The Burbank Unified Board of Education unanimously approved the purchase of 360 HP Chromebooks for Smarter Balance testing and instructional use on Thursday, October 3. The school board also approved the purchase of 10 Aver mobile carts to secure, charge and transport the Chromebooks.

BUSD LogoFunds for the Chromebooks and mobile carts will come from Common Core money set aside for technology, professional development and materials, said Sharon Cuseo, Director of Instruction and Accountability for the district.

“This past spring, we had our Smarter Balance field testing and we were able to pull that off pretty smoothly with help from our technology team and our school sites,” commented Cuseo. “The only thing we needed to do to make that happen in terms of purchasing computers was we bought three laptop carts to help the high schools deal with the volume of testing.”

“However, this spring we have the real test and so we’re going to need more support because the test is going to be full length, which is twice as long as the test was in the field testing,” she went on to say. “For example, at the high school, the students will be testing for 8 1/2 hours each students, and so, that is a lot of testing.”

Students in Debbie McHorney's class use four-year-old laptops in class. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Students in Debbie McHorney’s class use four-year-old laptops in class. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Since the district does not have computer labs, or even the space for computer labs, at every school site, BUSD officials see mobile computer carts as the answer for administering the Smarter Balance test. When the Chromebook carts are not in use for testing, they can be used for instructional purposes in the classroom.

Chromebooks were selected for the purchase, Cuseo said, because “we didn’t want to invest in something that was going to be very expensive and consume all of our Common Core money.”

BUSD wanted to purchase a product useful not only for testing but also for instruction.

To this end, the BUSD technology team determined the 14″ HP Chromebook as a best option. It has 4 gigabytes RAM, a 14″ monitor, a nine-hour battery life and comes with a three-year warranty, explained Charles Poovakan, Director of Information Technology and Educational Support.

Each Chromebook is priced at $312 for the district and can be used for online access and basic word processing. Many apps and programs are available via the internet.

The school board approved $149,248.80 for the Chromebook purchase, which includes $10,108.80 in state tax. The Aver carts cost $14,925.58.

“This would be a computer lab on wheels,” commented Board of Education President Dr. Roberta Reynolds.

The Chromebook carts will only be moved around for testing, added Cuseo. Otherwise, they will stay at specific schools. The three carts purchased earlier this year for the Smarter Balance field testing are already deployed, one each at Burbank and John Burroughs High Schools and one at a district middle school.

The additional ten Chromebook carts will be divided between the high schools, middle schools and larger elementary schools for instructional use.

The school district has been testing iPads at Luther and trying out various technology items at Burroughs and other district schools in its ongoing quest to integrate technology in the classroom.

Burbank Teacher Of The Year Honored By County

Burbank Unified School District teacher Darla Gerharter joined more than 70 teachers from Los Angeles County as they were honored by the L.A. County Office of Education as district Teachers of the Year at a luncheon held Friday, September 19, at the Universal Hilton in Universal City.

“I am very proud to represent Burbank Unified,” commented Gerharter, who currently teaches at Walt Disney Elementary. “I am especially proud to represent our district as a special education teacher.”

“Our teachers are very dedicated and work really hard to meet the needs of our students,” she added. “I’m proud to be part of a great team.”

Burbank Unified Teacher of the Year Darla Gerharter was honored by the L.A. County Office of Education. (Photo Courtesy of Darla Garharter)

Burbank Unified Teacher of the Year Darla Gerharter was honored by the L.A. County Office of Education. (Photo Courtesy of Darla Garharter)

Gerharter was a special education teacher at Joaquin Miller and Ralph Emerson Elementary schools before joining Disney. She started out as a substitute teacher for BUSD in 1999 and was a special education aide until she earned her credential to become a full-fledged special education teacher.

A native of Honolulu, Hawaii, Gerharter received a B.A. in fine arts from UCLA. She worked for a time in the garment industry in Los Angeles, before going into education.

“Darla was chosen as our Teacher of the Year for her willingness to do what ever is necessary to make all of our students successful,” said Disney Principal Melissa Kistler. “She provides focused support to special needs children and works tirelessly to provide the staff with intervention strategies to support students who have struggled in general education.”

“Darla is also active in our PTA and Boosters,” continued Kistler. “She heads our Multicultural Night and the Read Across America campaign at our school. Her ‘can do’ attitude inspires us all!”

“For the past 15 years, Darla Gerharter’s teaching has been a model of educational excellence,” commented BUSD Superintendent Dr. Jan Britz. “Her instructional skills and tireless dedication to students and their families have had a positive impact on countless children and families.”

The Los Angeles County Office of Education sponsors the Los Angeles County Teachers of the Year Program, an honors competition and awards luncheon that spotlights excellence in public education. The county program, the largest in the state, is part of the California and National Teacher of the Year programs.

Two Burbank Unified Seniors Vie For National Merit Scholarships

Two Burbank Unified students, Burroughs High School senior Brennan Flynn and Burbank High School senior Candace Kim, have been selected as semi-finalists in the National Merit Scholarship annual competition. Flynn and Kim’s PSAT scores are amongst the highest in the state of California and the nation.

Out of the 1.4 million juniors who took the test during the 2013-14 school year, about 16,000 students nationwide scored high enough to enter the scholarship competition’s semi-final round. Both Flynn and Kim will have the opportunity to advance to the final round of competition and vie for 7,600 scholarships worth $33 million.

Burroughs High School counselor Sheila Masters and Principal John Paramo announce senior Brennan Flynn's (center) selection for National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. (Photo Courtesy John Burroughs High School)

Burroughs High School counselor Sheila Masters and Principal John Paramo announce senior Brennan Flynn’s (center) selection for National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. (Photo Courtesy John Burroughs High School)

To move on as finalists, students must continue to meet competition requirements and take the SAT, earning a score that confirms their initial PSAT high score. They also must submit an application with the endorsement of their school principal and an essay.

Burbank High School's Candace Kim is a semi-finalist for the National Merit Scholarship awards. (Photo Courtesy of Burbank High School)

Burbank High School’s Candace Kim is a semi-finalist for the National Merit Scholarship awards. (Photo Courtesy of Burbank High School)

“Burbank High School is proud of Candace and her high achieving status on the national level,” said BHS Assistant Principal of Guidance, Jacquie Day. “We join with students, faculty and staff in congratulating her and wishing her well in the next phase of the competition. We can’t wait to see where Candace will leave her paw print! It’s great to be a bulldog!”

“Brennan is one of 2,108 high school students in California that are considered semi-finalists, which is quite an academic feat!” commented Kimberley Clark, Public Information Officer for BUSD. “Congratulations to Brennan, his family and the JBHS staff.”

Of the 1.4 million students taking the PSAT, which tests critical reading, mathematics and writing skills, approximately 50,000 receive top scores. Two-thirds of those are recognized as Commended Students, who may be eligible for other scholarships. The top one-third, or about 16,000 students, are notified of their semi-finalist status in September every year. Most of those semi-finalists meet the criteria to go on to compete as finalists.

Scholarship winners will be announced in the spring of 2015, from a pool of about 15,000 finalists, according to the non-profit National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

BUSD Increases Enrollment

As of September 3, approximately two weeks into the 2014-15 school year, Burbank Unified School District has seen an increase in enrollment of about 256 total students in its associated public schools to a total of approximately 15,281, according to BUSD officials.

BUSD Logo“One of the most obvious reasons is our TK classes,” commented Hani Youssef, Director of BUSD Student Services. “We projected four but now have seven TK classes.”

TK – or Transitional Kindergarten – along with the Dual Immersion Spanish classes, has proven to be of great interest to parents living and working in Burbank, added Youssef.

Youssef noted the increase in enrollment does not take into account the new Junior Kindergarten classes that will begin in January 2015, after a successful pilot program begun in January 2014.

Another reason for the increase in enrollment is the number of inter-district permits, for those parents who work in Burbank but do not reside within school boundaries. Of the 130 or so permits issued by September 3, Youssef explained, about 75 of those are for Kindergarten.

With enrollment increases across the board, the district continues to identify reasons for those people who did decline inter-district permits or intra-district transfers, in which Burbank residents petition to be moved from one school in the district to another.

Unofficially, Youssef told the BUSD Board of Education at the biweekly meeting Thursday, September 4, if the declined permits were for Kindergarteners, the parents were looking for day care or extended hours or for Dual Immersion language programs. He anticipated more concrete data to present on declined permits and transfers in the near future.

From the August 22 report filed in advance of the September 4 Board of Education meeting, there are 6,123 students enrolled in the 11 BUSD elementary schools, ranging from 370 at Providencia and 390 at Disney to 754 at Jefferson and 668 at Bret Harte elementary schools.

There are 3,456 students enrolled in the three middle schools of Luther, Jordan and Muir. with Muir serving the most sixth, seventh and eighth graders, at 1387 enrolled.

Enrollment at the three high schools also increased to over 5,300 students, with 181 students in the continuation programs at Monterey High School. Burbank High School has 2575 students enrolled: 639 in ninth grade, 684 in tenth grade, 610 in eleventh grade and 642 in twelfth grade.

John Burroughs High School has a similar 2573 students enrolled, as of the August 22 report. JBHS has 691 in ninth grade, 647 in tenth grade, 643 in eleventh grade and 592 in twelfth grade.

Youssef noted that the totals have changed slightly in the September 3 report he discussed at the Board of Education meeting.