Board of Education Election Question #4: Communication


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 4 of 5 – Communication: Communication seems to be limited and a noted problem for this district.  What are your plans to increase communication and actively engage all stakeholders in the district? How do you address this, and how do you bring the Burbank City Council on Board?

Larry Applebaum

As I stated in my previous answer, I believe that community engagement is paramount to help our district move forward. The way to obtain this would have to be developed through conversations and consensus building by the Board initially, then extend the conversations to include district and site staff, as well as parents and the community as a whole. It is through this process that we will develop policies that truly reflect the community as a whole and will build credibility with the City Council such that they will be willing to listen and assist the District’s long term goals and needs. We were successful previously when I was on the Board in negotiating a 50 year joint use agreement that allowed BUSD to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure at the fields of both Burbank and Burroughs High Schools, rehabilitate the field at Jordan (now Huerta) Middle School, create community parking to address the needs of the after hours users, and remove the previously tedious accounting and paperwork back and forth that was excessively costly for both parties. The City kicked in more than 14 million dollars to ensure the facilities were constructed and community had access to School facilities after hours into the future. It was a win/win that generated goodwill in the community and a sense of camaraderie that has been lacking, to put it bluntly, over the last few years. I look forward to starting the conversations that will ultimately be used to have meaningful cooperative engagement with the City Council and allow us to build on the example of the 50 year joint use agreement the two entities signed previously.

Harutyun Ketikyan

Did not respond

Michael Morgan

Live, laugh, love. We need to go to the Target in the Empire Center and buy some of those signs to hang up in the City Council chambers (I am kidding/not kidding). Technology can be utilized to improve both transparency and communication and there should be the utilization of platforms like Slack, Discord, Reddit, Twitter and more to promote transparency around government to public and public to government communication. While some of our City Council members use Twitter, none of our School Board members are on Twitter including our Superintendent. This would help to streamline public comment and opinion and generate a more fluid space for “public comment” rather than exclusively in-person or online during School Board meetings. The School Board could do a better job of inviting the Burbank City Council into some of the workings of the district and could set up a project management platform like Basecamp, Monday or Asana for the specific purpose of collaborating and cooperating on issues pertaining to youth across Burbank. This is an expertise that I have from my professional experience and I would gladly oversee the setting up of such platforms and channels for more transparent communication within City Government for the benefit of Burbank students, parents, teachers and staff. 

James L. Morrison

It has come to my attention that some of the board members are already aware of their short comings when it comes to their collective communication. Perhaps a joint session with the Burbank City Council is needed with the topic of communication serving as the top agenda item. This will allow the public to see the board as a governing body that is self-aware. Additionally, it would tear down the current, public perception of the board, and it would offer a sense of humility that is missing.  It would speak volumes to show Burbank a governing body that is actively trying to work through their issues in a public forum.

Abby Pontzer Kamkar

In talking to voters, they feel that the necessary information is usually available, but that they have to dig to find it. I mentioned my own personal office hours, but I would also like to see us consolidating some of our communications so that the same message is always going on all channels when it comes to critical items or announcements. For example, we should be proactively communicating to all Burbankers and BUSD stakeholders when enrollment starts, or the proposed academic calendar before it is approved. The District should develop a rubric for what types of communications belong on each channel, and follow such a plan.

Brian J. Smith

If elected, I plan to lean into the district’s website and put more focus on the breadth and depth of information contained therein.  I want to see it updated continuously to keep parents, teachers, students and the community accurately informed about everything BUSD. I also think we should spend a little money on outreach through The Burbank Leader, MyBurbank, and other sources to spread the good news about what is happening with our school district.  The joint committee created at the last board of education and city council meeting is a good place to start with communication and finding common ground. Beyond that I think it will come down to building relationships between board members and council members to serve the shared community.

Charlene Tabet

We have had a continued working relationship with the city.  I communicate and meet with City Council members on a regular basis, looking for ways the District and the City can work together. At a recent joint meeting of the Board and Council, we agreed to have the Board President, Superintend, Mayor and City manager meet quarterly to discuss common areas of interest that we can work on together for a better BUSD and Burbank. As a Board member, I am always looking for ways to engage.