After nearly two decades in Burbank wearing numerous hats as an educator and an administrator, Dr. John Paramo was officially named Superintendent of Schools during a meeting of the Burbank Unified School District on Thursday night at city hall that lasted two hours and 54 minutes.
The vote was 5-0 and it was an important night for the one-time Burroughs High principal.
Paramo’s contract begins this month and runs through June 2027.
“This is a big night for me and it’s a dream come true,” said Paramo, who was also Director of Secondary Education for the BUSD. “It’s my parents who showed me a strong work ethic. I don’t want to be anywhere else.”
When the high school academic workload became stressful for Paramo, he spoke with his father about the matter and he gave this advice: “Well that means you’re going to have to go to sleep earlier and get up earlier,” he told his son.
Paramo’s keystone belief is always working together. “I want to work with you collectively. It’s the team approach,” he noted.
Paramo, who earned his doctorate from USC and taught English at Don Bosco Technical Institute, ended his acceptance with this remark.
“I’m grateful for this opportunity,” said the former John Muir Middle School principal. “I’ve always had a heart for kids and that will never change.”
Dr. Emily Weisberg gave high praise to Paramo.
“He was the first to show up. What can we do to get better? At every safety walk, Dr. Paramo has been there,” she said of the hard-working teacher and administrator. “Your ability to listen and say we will figure it out. There’s optimism and enthusiasm.”
Board member Charlene Tabet chimed in.
“He not only has the background, but is the right person for the job,” she said.
Member Abby Pontzer Kamkar was also on board and behind the vote for Paramo.
“Given his stellar profile, I kept an open mind,” she said of her earlier meetings with him. “We talked about our shared outlook. He’s proactive. We are so incredibly lucky. He has grace and humility. I do think he’s the right person for the job.”
President Steve Ferguson spoke before Paramo was elected unanimously.
“This has been a long process. We talked about values. Conversations need to occur,” he said. “Core values are important. There is a whole new leadership team. There is a little bit of hope renewed. It’s important to have an educator as superintendent.”
A potential school board bond measure that could be on the ballot in March 2024 was discussed, but nothing more than that.
“Our best bet is November at a minimum to have it on the ballot by March,” Ferguson said. “We should wait a few months to discuss this. I’m not opposed to the bond. We just had a major accounting error for $12 million dollars and we’re asking for a credit card? We need a clean bill of health.”
Weisberg also spoke. “We need to invest in our schools. We need to talk about the details,” she said. “We need to put a progressive plan to put the bond on the ballot in November.”