BUSD: Meeting Had Content And Emotion

The four-hour and fifteen-minute meeting was filled with important information.

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(Photo By Ross Benson)

For a good portion of the public comments section of Thursday’s Burbank Unified School Board’s four-hour and fifteen-minute meeting at city hall, the importance of the Burbank Community Day School was discussed and praised by parents, former students, and Frank Fuentes, the principal of the school.

Though it’s not certain, the school could be closed.

Here is Fuentes’ message on what Community Day School is about. 

It provides a classroom environment in which students work to improve behavior, attendance and academic performance. The curriculum is aligned with the district’s comprehensive middle and high schools and is based on the District and State adopted content standards.

The schoolwide purpose is to support optimal student achievement both academically and behaviorally by utilizing a proactive systems approach for creating and maintaining a safe and effective learning environment.

This is achieved by teaching expected behaviors, creating student behavioral and academic support systems, and applying data-based decision making to discipline, academic and social/emotional learning.

Several former students and one father whose daughter attended the school, spoke with emotion, passion and purpose.

A few of the speakers had to gather themselves, recalling how the school was a life raft when matters were extremely difficult in their lives.

Superintendent Dr. John Paramo spoke on the matter.

“These were individual stories with individual needs,” he said of those students, who despite the odds and obvious challenges, succeeded.

Paramo used Fuentes’ words when he said, “[Community Day School] is a place where you can find someone to relate to, someone to connect to.”

Steve Ferguson, the BUSD president, spoke with emotion after hearing the students’ gripping stories.

“You don’t run for the school board to shut schools down,” he said. “We are all involved in getting kids across the finish line.”

In closing, Ferguson was hopeful even if the school is closed.

“Fear not, it’s going your way,” he said. “These students need to hear that. You’re thought of more than you know.”

Board member Dr. Armond Aghakhanian also spoke and praised the school.

“Our number one priority is the students. For those students to come and speak emotionally, it was nice to see,” he said.

BUSD vice president Dr. Emily Weisberg also chimed in on the importance of Community Day School.

“It was really powerful to hear so many students talk about what the school means to them,” she said. “We need to highlight all the great things Community Day School and Monterey [High] are doing.”

Another important item discussed was the BUSD has participated in a multi-school collaborative facilitated by California Education Partners.

BUSD has been an active participant in the collaborative for the past five consecutive years and is now in year six.

The goal of the collaborative is to address A-G completion and keeping students on-track for completion. BUSD identified math and the correlation between Algebra and Algebra II as our focus for increasing A-G rates.

Within the collaborative, the district looked at multiple data points to identify an A-G on-track indicator that would determine or have a significant impact on A-G completion.

For BUSD, the indicator that was selected was Hispanic/Latino students and the “D” and “F” rate associated with this subgroup in Algebra I.

Local data indicates that the percentage of Hispanic/Latino students receiving Ds and Fs has decreased significantly since implementing strategies and practices to improve student performance.

The decrease in the D and F rate for Hispanic/Latino students since 2017- 2018 has been approximately 20 percent.

The district wide goals for 2022-2023 are: 1) Students will be career/college ready via high-quality instruction. 2) Students will be physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy. 3) Recruit and retain highly qualified employees.

Here are the discussion and issues: As a result of the collaborative and local initiatives within BUSD, the following strategies and practices have occurred and contributed to the successful decline in the D and F rate for Hispanic/Latino students in Algebra I and other math courses.

A) Professional Learning Communities. B) Common Formative Assessments. C) Identifying and responding to problems of practice. D) Rubric Grading aligned to standards. E) Math Mindset – Unit Zero.

The meeting began with the Burbank Historical Society Essay Award winners being recognized. There were roughly a dozen winners.

One student representative attended the meeting, Kayla Cruz, who is the Burroughs High ASB president.

Cruz spoke about the drama school’s newest play, “A Holiday Carol,” which will run this weekend.

Additionally, Cruz said the school is also preparing an arts and crafts fair and on December 15, there will be a faculty luncheon.

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