BUSD: Governor Gavin Newsom’s State Budget Is Highlight

The new year's first meeting begins for the Burbank Unified School District with Dr. Emily Weisberg in the middle chair.

(Photo By Ross Benson)

It’s the initial Burbank Unified School District meeting of the new year at city hall and it began on Thursday night with Dr. Emily Weisberg sitting in the middle seat as the president.

Early on a common theme that ran through the meeting was school attendance is declining in the district and also statewide.

Two reasons for the drop in students are lower birth rates and lack of affordable housing in Burbank.

Gema Ptasinski, a certified public accountant at Clifford-Larson-Allen reviewed the 2022-2023 annual financial report and the $110 million Measure S Bond program report.  

What followed was a report on the 2022-2023 Annual Fiscal Report and Financial Proposition 39 General Obligation Bonds Building Fund Measure and was discussed by the team from Perkins Eastman, which is a global architecture and design firm.

They included Patrick Davis, principal in charge, Kimberly Coffeen, project manager and Madison Stout, designer, and they presented their fiscal facilities master plan report.

A slide presentation was shown to the four members present, Dr. Armond Aghakhanian, vice president, member Charlene Tabet, and Abby Pontzer Kamkar.

The slide show went as follows:

Federal Program Audit: 1) Unmodified opinion on compliance. 2) No material weakness or significant deficiencies in internal control.

3) Program tested.

A) COVID-19 education stabilization fund (ESSER/GEER). B) Child Nutrition cluster. In summary: the district qualified as a low-risk auditee.

State Program Audit: 1) Attendance/Independent. 2) Study/continuing education. 3) Home to school transportation reimbursement.

4) Independent study certification for ADA loss mitigation. 5) Transitional kindergarten. 6) Unmodified Opinion on Compliance. In summary: current year compliance findings: ASES documentation repeat from prior year.

All of this is good news for the district.

Andrew Cantwell, assistant superintendent, administrative services talked about California Governor Gavin Newsom’s state budget update for 2024-25.which included a plan for addressing the budget shortfall with three strategic strategies: “budget/resilience,” (reserves/revenue/borrowing), “belt tightening/stretching dollars” (reductions/fund shifts) and “delays/deferrals.”

Cantwell said initially there was a $68 billion deficit, but it might actually be a $37 billion deficit, which is a $31 billion difference. Also, good news.

Cantwell also said the headlines screamed that education is being spared cuts, but this may not be so accurate.

Additionally, an initial reading of the dual immersion master plan was presented by Peter Knapik, assistant superintendent, educational services.

The BUSD voted unanimously to adopt February in recognition of National Black History Month. There was some suggested reading by noted Black authors such as Jacqueline Woodson and Nic Stone.

Woodson’s books are targeted for children and adolescents and some of her many books include “Brown Girl Dreaming” and “Another Brooklyn,” while Stone appeals to young adults and penned her first novel “Dear Martin.”

Also, February 5 through February 9 was unanimously adopted as a resolution as School Counseling Week.

Early in the meeting the student representatives spoke, and the highlight was Paris Tesfu, the Burroughs representative, who read her poem which she wrote for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.