Burbank Board Of Education Approves Minimum Wage Increase, Hears Reports On Distance Learning, DEI

(Photo By Ross Benson)

The Burbank Board of Education approved a minimum wage increase for Classified Employees to keep in line with State law at their most recent meeting on December 17. The newly-installed Board also heard reports from Student Representatives and from Superintendent Matt Hill on Distance Learning and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.

Since California Senate Bill 3 (SB 3) was signed into law in April 2016, the State’s minimum wage has tracked a planned increase over the years, reaching $15 per hour for larger employers on January 1, 2022. On January 1, 2021, California minimum wage is scheduled to increase to $14 per hour.

“In order to meet the requirements set by the State of California, salary schedules must be modified to implement the $14.00 per hour requirement,” commented Dr. Sarah Niemann, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Services. “Employers in California are subject to both state and federal minimum wage laws. When there are conflicting requirements, the employer must follow the stricter standard; that is, the one that is most beneficial to the employee.

“Since California’s current law requires a higher minimum wage rate than the federal law, Burbank Unified School District will be following the California minimum wage requirement of $14.00 per hour,” Niemann continued. “This change impacts employees earning below $14.00 on the Pay Schedule for Hourly or Special Assignments and employees earning below $14.00 on the Schedule of Classified Monthly Salary.”

Near the close of the December 17 Board of Education meeting, the Burbank school board voted to increase minimum wage to $14 per hour. The increase affects 156 employees.

Student Representatives from John Burroughs High School and Burbank High School gave their biweekly reports at the December 17 meeting.

Nadaly Jones from JBHS discussed the recent approval by a majority of high school students to change the school’s mascot, with 981 students voting to change the mascot, for 63.7% of the vote, and 559 voting not to do so, with 36.3% of the vote.

“The results of the vote show students do not want to continue using the Indian as our mascot,” Jones said. Associated Student Body (ASB) will be soliciting suggestions for a new mascot in the spring semester.

Carmen Blanchard from BHS congratulated JBHS, Jones and the Burroughs ASB on their efforts to change the school mascot. Blanchard also noted Burbank High ASB is working on launching a website similar to Burroughs ASB’s site in the new year, in addition to brainstorming ideas to keep engaging and supporting students in the new year.

Superintendent Matt Hill presented an update on Distant Learning for the Board. Currently, BUSD averages a distribution of approximately 11,400 free meals weekly, which is supported by funding from the USDA while school is in session.

Thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Chuck Lorre Foundation, Burbank Unified Food Services was able to package 11 days worth of free meals for needy students to use over the Winter Break. Those meals were picked up by students on Friday, December 18.

During the fall semester, 6481 Chromebooks were loaned to students, who will continue to use those devices for spring semester remote learning. The District expects 3000 replacement Chromebooks, to reload computer carts from which many of the distributed Chromebooks were taken, to arrive by January 2021.

Synchronous attendance – student attendance during online learning classes – remains at 98% for all grades. Asynchronous learning, during which students must check in for classes outside of regularly taught classes, still hovers around 72% for all grades, with 81% of elementary students checking in and 62% of secondary students doing so.

Friday asynchronous learning also remains with a similar breakdown at 72% average for all grades. The District continues to work with the approximately 120 students who fail to check in, classified as “disengaged.”

Hill also went over the continued efforts of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and its various subcommittees. He also highlighted the current Diversity Champion, Joseph “Louis” Ayala, the first Latino president of the California School Employees Association (CSEA), Chapter 674, and the Senior Ground Technician for BUSD.

Hill encouraged nominations for future Diversity Champions, which spotlights an individual in Burbank Unified and the community who is focused on diversity. Nominations for future Diversity Champions can be made online via the DEI website.

The Instruction DEI subcommittee continues to look at ways to offer an Ethnic Studies course. BUSD is watching very closely what is happening at the State level, Hill explained, and how State officials are developing a framework for the class, which will become required for graduation for the 2029-30 class, with course offerings appearing in public high schools during the 2025-26 school year.

The Instruction subcommittee also continues work on diversifying book collections in classrooms and school site libraries.

“There is an organization out there that is trying to buy more books that we already have, like Huck Finn. We have those books,” commented Hill. “There’s other books [with which] we want to diversify our libraries. So if we have other community partners out that want to help us, we’re very excited about that.”

Hill noted that one community partner has already stepped up to support the efforts to add more diverse, award-winning books to classrooms and libraries.

The video and complete agenda of the Burbank Board of Education meeting for December 17 can be found online here.

The Burbank Board of Education is comprised of President Steve Frintner, Vice President Charlene Tabet, Clerk Steve Ferguson and members Dr. Armond Aghakhanian and Dr. Emily Weisberg. More information on the Board can be found online on their webpage.