Burbank Board Of Education Hears About Remote Learning, Classified Employee Adaptability

(Photo By Ross Benson)

The Burbank Board of Education met online for their regular biweekly session on Thursday evening, August 20. After a few public comments, the Board heard about the first week of school and the transition to remote learning, the adaptability of classified workers to workplace changes, a report on the status of the Superintendent’s Fundraising Advisory Committee and approved a number of items.

Classified employees and members of the California School Employee Association (CSEA) negotiating team Roberto Villarta and President Joseph “Louis” Ayala addressed the Board during the public comments session to highlight the efforts BUSD’s classified employees have made to support the district’s remote learning approach. Ayala noted that many classified positions in child care, technology and environmental work have undergone changes across the district.

Burbank Unified School District office. (Photo By Ross Benson)

Burbank Unified’s classified employees are currently negotiating an update to their agreement with the school district, much as the teachers’ union, Burbank Teachers Association, recently did, to reflect their changing work roles with the onset and continued presence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Superintendent Matt Hill also addressed the Board, noting that he missed being able to visit most of the BUSD school sites on the first day of school, as he has for the past five years, with myBurbank photographer Ross Benson. Burbank Unified students, teachers and staff headed back to school on Monday, August 17.

Hill talked about the efforts the community of Burbank Unified  – teachers, staff, parents, caregivers and students – has been making during the implementation of the 100% distance learning model focusing on technology and online interaction.

“We are working harder than ever before,” he said, while acknowledging the stresses these efforts can take on everyone. “We need to lean on each other and check in on each other… this pandemic is unrelenting.”

Burbank Unified continues to loan out Chromebooks and hotspots to students and families who need them. Technology challenges continue as well but the district tech staff is working with students and families to sort out issues that arise.

Hill also highlighted the importance of attendance – to keep in accord with County and State mandates – for students to check in during both live classes in the morning and afternoon at home work sessions.

He noted that school administrative teams, including counselors and intervention specialists, are working to connect and follow up with students who have not been in attendance online, to help sort out these challenges.

“Some may be having technology issues, others may be having issues at home. Some people may be out of work right now,” Hill said. “Connect with us. We want to help you. For all of the above, we have resources available that we can help you with that. Or put you in touch with the right individuals.”

District officials are thinking about how the transition back to in person instruction will be managed. The focus will be on a thoughtful plan that follows State and County Public Health guidelines, Hill emphasized, without rushing to bring people back, as many schools and universities have done throughout the country, only to have to shut down again.

“That’s not what we want to do here in Burbank,” he said.

Assistant Superintendent of Education Services John Paramo gave a report on the recently formed Superintendent’s Fundraising Advisory Committee, which is currently working on bylaws and is seeking guidance from the Board about BUSD’s fundraising priorities.

The Board approved several items, such as the 2019-2022 Negotiated Successor to the Agreement between the BUSD and BTA, School Attendance Review Board (SARB) Committee Members for 2020-2021 and the new bylaws for the School Facilities (Bond) Oversight Committee, which included a change from monthly to quarterly meetings.

The Board also proclaimed September as Attendance Awareness Month and named member Dr. Roberta Reynolds as their representative to the Los Angeles County School Trustees Association (LACSTA) for 2020-21.

Board members also accepted the recommended elimination of six and the reduction of four classified positions for lack of work.

Burbank Board of Education acknowledged the receipt of gifts to the District, including the second $10,000 donation by the Syrian Community of Burbank, to help with materials and supplies to assist with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Board also approved a number of additional legal, financial, logistical, personnel and other items, detailed in the August 20 agenda.

They recognized the retirements of classified employee Mary Hyman (who has worked for BUSD since 1992), Cathy Marcy (who’s taught at McKinley since 1985), McKinley teacher Rosanne Webb (who’s been there since 1978) and Annette Marino, an elementary school aide since 2016.

The video and agenda of the Burbank Board of Education meeting for August 20, can be found online here. The August 20 meeting, including public comments, runs for just over an hour. Past regular and special meetings are also available on the link.

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