Board of Education Election Question #1: Budget


As part of myBurbank’s Election 2022 coverage, we have asked all of the candidates in the three races some tough questions to help voters decide who deserves their vote.

In the race for Board of Education, there are seven candidates, and we asked five tough questions. We told the candidates they could write as much as they wanted, and we did not edit their responses in any way. We listed their responses in alphabetical order.

Today is question 1 of 5 – Budget: After two failed parcel tax measures to try to raise money, what are your thoughts on the District raising funds, or is it just a matter of staying within its budget?

Larry Applebaum

Two of my five facets for revitalizing Burbank schools involves creating a funded long-term maintenance and repair plan, one for the facilities department and one for the technology department. While I had no qualms in advocating for the defeat of both parcel tax measures, as the money would have gone to salaries, which is not a proper use of the funds in my opinion, that does not mean I don’t believe we need to augment funding. I believe we are desperately in need of funding to cover the costs associated with maintaining our wonderful, aging facilities and the maintenance and refresh of our technology districtwide in the future. We will have a ONE-TIME opportunity in 2024 to put before the voters a Bond issue that will NOT increase property taxes, just maintain the status quo as to what we pay currently. This is because the 1997 General Obligation Bonds the community approved will be fully paid off in 2024. That will actually cause our portion of the 2025 property tax bill to be reduced substantially. I propose we put before the voters a bond issue that we could use to provide funds for maintaining our facilities and technology into the future, and tie it to a pledge to keep the tax rate at no more than the $55.00/$100,000 assessed value that we promised with Measure S in 2013. I would like to propose an authorization of $200 million dollars, which would allow us to sell bonds, on an as needed basis, over the next 20-25 years, to cover these ongoing maintenance needs. I believe that the community will support this measure, if explained in a clear and transparent fashion, as we did with Measure S. Much like we had with Measure S, there will be push back from some members of the community, but I know most Burbankers will agree with this thoughtful, measured approach to funding our maintenance needs into the future. In doing so, we would be freeing up money that currently comes out of the General Fund, and allow those dollars to be used to fund salaries and benefits for our employees, which is a proper use of General Fund dollars.

Harutyun Ketikyan

Did not respond

Michael Morgan

As I stated during the PTA forum there needs to be a stronger impetus across our government to hold global entertainment studios like Nickelodeon accountable in supporting the education of local Burbank students. As the saying goes, “Think global, act local.” Nickelodeon television programming including “That Girl Lay Lay”, “Sam & Cat, “Drake & Josh” and “All That” primarily featured actors and actresses in their teens. This type of programming requires a higher level of responsibility and scrutiny than filming with adults. What unique role does the Burbank school system, its parents, students, faculty, administrators and the School Board, have in holding these studios located within the boundaries of our school district accountable? If Nickelodeon is “teaching” young people all over the world through their media content, shouldn’t there be some form of oversight and collaboration between the Burbank School District and Nickelodeon? This is not only to benefit Nickelodeon, but also to benefit Burbank Schools. On the Nickelodeon shows “Dora Explorer” or “Glitch Techs”, multiple phDs are on staff to support the educational integrity of the content. In fact, there are probably more phDs on staff of a single Nickelodeon show than the entire Burbank School district! 

The safety, leisure, and many amenities of Burbank are a testament to the hard work and sturdy social compact that exists between Burbank citizens and the synergy between our police department, fire department, city government, and school systems. Studios like Nickelodeon benefit from being in Burbank so I would propose a “Studio Tax” that would capitalize off of the incredible profit margins that are being seen by our local studios thanks to digital streaming distribution and more. What that tax would specifically entail would be up to its citizens and City Council. Burbank can do better!  

James L. Morrison

In the past, I have talked about the importance of asking the big studios for assistance. I am the first to admit I may have been wrong in thinking they have not done enough when, in fact, they have done a great deal for our community. However, more relationships with our local businesses can be made stronger through rock-solid partnerships and fundraisers. For instance, Chuck E. Cheese put on a fundraiser for Walt Disney Elementary a few weeks ago. These events help our kids understand the importance of community and sends a message to our schools that they are not alone.

Abby Pontzer Kamkar

While Measure QS was before my time in Burbank (just barely – we moved in January 2019) I was disappointed when Measure I didn’t pass. We must increase revenue – we get ~80% of what neighboring districts do because we lack both concentration funding (for high needs populations) and a parcel tax. The revenue formula is essentially the number of students multiplied by a base funding rate. So there are a few things we can do:

  • Increase enrollment. More students in our schools means more money to the district and more money to the classroom. We have 2,400 fewer students than we did in 2016-2017, which means we have the capacity and responsibility to impact more young minds. We can increase enrollment by doing actual outreach to families in Burbank, especially at Kindergarten, 6th, and 9th grades; streamlining the enrollment process especially for new transfers into Burbank schools, adding seats to our popular programs like Spanish Dual Immersion and Around the Bell, and adding a full-day kindergarten option.
  • Advocate for a higher base funding rate at the state level. We have generally supportive local elected officials, but I believe we could join up with districts in similar situations to advocate together for those of us in the “messy middle.”
  • Increase our local funding. We should find a way to reframe the parcel tax to get those last few hundred votes, or, ideally, advocate for the two-thirds threshold to be lowered to 50%+1. Remember that a majority of Burbankers wants this – 64% – and yet it is being stopped by a minority. For example, during Measure I, many people over 65 didn’t realize that they could be exempt from the tax – we need to communicate more and better to all constituents.

Brian J. Smith

I’m not in favor of asking the voters for a parcel tax until the district first makes our spending and budget transparent to the community and easily accessible and digestible.  I want to show our residents what good stewards we are with the money that we currently have before we go out and ask for any more mandatory tax-based funding. Instead, I’d like the district administration to partner with local businesses and individuals looking to support either the district as a whole or on a site-specific or program-specific basis.  Burbank has a generous community, with members who care about education and understand what an important part schools play in the health of our city.  Every dollar received as a donation, partnership, or sponsorship is a dollar from traditional state and property tax funding sources that can be used for ongoing operational expenses.

Charlene Tabet

In my current role as a Board member, I have partnered with a coalition of Districts from the surrounding area to advocate to the State and local level for further and more complete funding.  There are many ways that the State can ease our budget, including reducing the amount each district must pay into replacing the money the STRS and PERS (retirement systems) lost in the 2008 recession.

However, our budget is solid due to making prudent fiscal decisions and an increase in state funding. We need to continue to be strategic on funding by both working for further funding and cautious financial management.  We will continue to meet with stakeholders in the community and work with the Budget Committee to make sure that we can continue programs for students as we’ve come to expect in Burbank.

    BurCal Apartments8715


    1. Mr. Larry ‘keep paying forever’ Applebaum,

      The property owners did our part. We voted for the bonds and we are about to pay off some of them. Be grateful. It is the BUSD that has mismanaged the funding. You are part of the problem as you were on the board for many years.
      The simplistic notion that you have is we are used to paying so lets just have another bond and keep paying forever.


      What you are in favor of is in fact a NEW TAX.
      The BUSD just gave the Superintendent a retroactive raise BEFORE his contract was even up! His salary is now exceeding the $350,000 per year range. A change was recently made to allow the top management (Hill’s buddy’s) to surrender their vacation days for cash, further evidence that the BUSD is flush with cash. Insane.

      ALL employees also just got a big raise. Please keep in mind this fact: For every two days a teacher works they get one day off (when factoring in vacation days, sick days, holidays, winter & spring breaks, personal days, and more). I would call that a part time job with full time pay. The BUSD has plenty of money as evidenced by the Boards recent actions. The BUSD also has money for multiple DEI coordinators and many other unnecessary expenditures.
      So no Larry, we will not support another tax raise and your twisted thinking/justification.

    Comments are closed.