On June 17th at 7 P.M., the Burbank Board of Education met in order discuss the Burbank Unified School District’s 2021-2022 budget as well as a wide range of other topics.
At the beginning of the meeting, Board President Steve Frintner acknowledged the passing of 30-year BUSD veteran Emilio Urioste, who passed away earlier this month at the age of 60. Urioste was a well-regarded Spanish teacher at John Burroughs High School for several years before becoming principal at the same school. He eventually worked his away up to becoming an administrator for the district, a position he would hold till his unfortunate passing.
“He was well-loved by students, teachers and administrators alike” said President Frintner. “He will be dearly missed.”
In an effort to make a future agenda item, Board member Steve Ferguson motioned to create a subcommittee tasked with creating a dedication landmark in Urioste’s name. The motion passed with no opposition.
At the meeting, newly hired school administrators were announced for both John Burroughs and Burbank High School. Matthew Chambers was announced as the new principal of John Burroughs while Heather Pitman was announced as a new Vice Principal at BHS.
Next, the School Board discussed the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) as well as the budget. Prior to the reading of the LCAP and budget, there was a brief period of public comment about both subjects in which there were no comments.
An item brought about in January of this year, the LCAP is made up of four components: the Parent Budget Overview, the 2019-2020 Annual Update, the 2020-2021 Learning Continuity Plan Update and, finally, the actual LCAP plan.
This LCAP plan contains roughly $10.8 million in action items and expenditures. Most controversial among these expenditures was the hiring of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consultant. This consultant would ensure that the School District creates an equitable and inclusive atmosphere for all students.
Although all board members were in agreement on the need for the position, some board members were not content with the cost.
“This is a lot of money to be spending on this position,” said Board Vice President Charlene Tabet, in reference to the $245,000 cost. “We better be getting daily updates if we are to invest this much on an item like this.”
In response to V.P. Tabet’s concern, Board member Emily Weisberg made an analogy about building a house. “You would want a house with a good foundation, right?” said Weisberg. “Wouldn’t [hiring the DEI Consultant] be worth the cost because it’s laying down a good foundation for the future?”
“A DEI Consultant can tell us what needs to be put in place long term,” said Weisberg. “There isn’t anybody in the district currently who is giving guidance and doing the centralized work that they would be doing.”
Following the discussion on the DEI Consultant, the School Board held the first reading of the 2021-2022 Budget.
Revenue sources for the 2021-2022 budget are as follows: 86% from the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), 3% from federal funding, 10% from other state revenues and another 1% from other local revenue sources.
“Unlike the city, the School District does not have a stable funding source due to the district being more at the whim of the state,” said Debbie Kukta, an Assistant Superintendent who presented the budget to the Board via PowerPoint.
Much like the city of Burbank, BUSD received millions of dollars in COVID stimulus money from the federal government. This money is set to be allocated over the next three budgets.
Expenditures for the 2021-2022 budget are as follows: 84% of generated revenue goes to salaries, 3% goes to books and supplies, 1% goes to capital outlay and an additional 12% goes to other services.
Due to the district’s leasing of Horace Mann to the YMCA, the amount the district expects to spend on child development is expected to drastically decrease from more than a million dollars to a few hundred thousand dollars within the next 3 budget cycles.
BUSD expects to run deficits for the next 4 years as they increase spending.
For the 2021-22 school year, the district laid out four primary goals. The first of these goals is that students will be either college or career ready by the time they leave BUSD. In order to accomplish this goal, the district would like to see the number of D’s and F’s earned in high schools and the number of 1’s and 2’s earned in elementary schools to decrease by 3%.
Second among the district’s goals is to make sure that students are physically, emotionally and mentally healthy. This is a particularly important goal given the ravaging effect that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the mental and emotional wellbeing of students. BUSD wants to increase mental health resources using a trauma-based approach.
BUSD’s two final goals are related: first, recruiting and retaining highly qualified employees and, second, maintaining efficient and effective operations. In order to create a better trained staff, the district seeks to put into place new forms of training that are focused on diversity and inclusion.