Tag Archives: BUSD

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.

BUSD Students Surpass State And Global Numbers On AP Exams

Burbank Unified high school students continue to post gains every year since 2010 in numbers of students passing Advanced Placement exams. BUSD passing percentages are also higher than state and global averages for the annual exams, according to information from the College Board Advanced Placement (AP) Program.

BUSD Logo“Through these five years, definitely we have been outperforming the state and the global average in terms of the percentage of students getting a three or higher,” said Director II of Secondary Education Emilio Urioste in his report to the Burbank Unified Board of Education.

Burbank High School offers 18 AP courses and John Burroughs High School offers 16 classes. Students aren’t required to take the AP exam held every May for their course, but most do. Some students from local private high schools also take the exams at BUSD high schools.

AP exams are graded with a score from one to five, with five being the top score. A three or higher is required to pass the exam and for the course to be eligible to receive college credit. Some colleges and universities require a score of five for the AP course to receive college credit.

District-wide, 312 BUSD students received the top score of five on the 2014 AP exam, added Urioste.

“Because the AP curriculum is so rigorous, participation in one or more AP courses is considered to be excellent preparation for a student to be successful in college,” said Urioste.

“As a part of the AP commitment to align its curriculum with current instructional practices in colleges and universities, the AP has begun to revise its courses and exams,” he continued. “The emphasis is now on critical thinking, inquiry, reasoning and communication skills. The curriculum is rigorous, research-based and patterned after introductory college courses.”

For the fall of 2014, Physics 1, Physics 2 and U.S. History have been revised. For the 2015-16 academic year, AP Art History and AP European History are planned for course revisions.

Image Courtesy of Burbank Unified School District.

At JBHS, AP classes in Calculus, Government/Politics, Spanish Language and Statistics showed the most improved passing percentages for the past two years. At BHS, AP European History, AP English Language, AP English Literature and AP Statistics all posted the strongest gains.

AP courses with the greatest participation at the high schools are Biology, Calculus, English Language, European History, Government/Politics and U.S. History. In the 2013-14 school year, BHS had 524 students enrolled in AP classes and JBHS had 561 students enrolled in AP classes, added Urioste.

Currently, if BUSD does not offer a specific AP course, as there are 34 classes in the College Board AP Program, a student may be able to arrange an independent study with one of the high school teachers in order to prepare for the AP exam. There are no online opportunities at this time for BUSD students to take AP courses through the district.

The entire report along with additional charts and graphs breaking down percentages by class can be viewed and read on the district’s website.


Police Issue Back To School Safety Tips

As school has already begun for other districts and starts on Monday, August 18, for the Burbank Unified School District, the Burbank Police Department has tweeted and posted a safety reminder for parents and people driving in the area.

“Traffic safety at our schools is a priority for the Burbank Police Department,” said Officer Joshua Kendrick of the Burbank Police Department. “Traffic officers are assigned to patrol schools as a visible deterrent to prevent incidents from occurring and to enforce traffic laws.”

“By following a few simple rules, parents can assist us in creating a safe environment around our schools for students, faculty and parents.”

(Photo by Ross A.Benson)

John Burroughs High School students head to school in August 2013. (Photo by Ross A.Benson)

Back to school safety tips include some Do’s:

1. Slow down around the schools; plan ahead and arrive early

2. Use the safe delivery/valet drop – off area

3. Position your children on the right side of the vehicle, so they exit onto the sidewalk, away from any moving vehicles

4. Stay alert; do not operate cell phones or allow other things to distract you

5. Park your car in the appropriate areas; obey posted parking restrictions

6. Obey all traffic laws

And some Don’ts:

1. Stop and park your vehicle in the delivery/valet drop – off area

2. Park and exit your vehicle in the passenger loading/unloading areas

3. Stop your vehicle in the middle of the street to let your child in or out of the vehicle

4. Walk between vehicles in the drop – off and pick – up area

5. Park across the street and direct your child to cross the street outside of the designated crossing area

6. Pass vehicles on the wrong side of the street

7. Leave your vehicle unattended

BPD recommends parents park their vehicles away from the school and walk their children to the school gates and cross at corners and use the crossing guards to assist. Officers encourage parents to plan ahead and arrive early.

Students and families begin their first day at Roosevelt Elementary (Photo by Lisa Paredes)

Students and families begin their first day at Roosevelt Elementary in August 2013. (Photo by Lisa Paredes)