Letter to the Editor:
I urge you to VOTE LARRY APPLEBAUM and BRIAN SMITH for Burbank School Board
Having grandchildren who attend Burbank public schools I am deeply concerned about the leadership of the Burbank Unified School District, (BUSD) under Superintendent Dr. Hill and the Board and I think you should be too. Why have 8 BUSD principals, an assistant Superintendent and a director left the district within the last few months? This crippling attrition of school leadership is hurting our students during already challenging times.
The Board of Education through its Superintendent has expressly committed to recruit and RETAIN highly qualified employees. They are doing the opposite. The superintendent has pointed to the pandemic and better opportunities elsewhere for the exodus, as if this was unavoidable. This is so far from the truth. Many of these former employees have deep community ties and would have stayed supporting our students in this community but for the toxic culture created by him and tacitly supported by the Board.
Our Board and the Superintendent waste our precious resources on costly investigations, mostly to distract or score political points. Watch a Board meeting and you will see the unproductive discord amongst the members. This dysfunction, combined with the superintendent autocratic “leadership” style, create a culture in which longtime employees are hemorrhaging from BUSD.
The School Board’s job is to hire one person, the Superintendent. If necessary their job is also to fire the Superintendent when he fails to inspire employees to stay invested in the welfare of our students. Have you been impressed by his leadership since he arrived? Two failed, much needed, parcel tax attempts happened under his watch. Dr. Hill should never have been given a three year job extension this summer. What were the three Board members who voted for this thinking? The Board should reconsider and replace the Superintendent even if we have to pay the price to buy him out of this contract. It will be less expensive in the long run.
As a retired person, I am concerned for our future citizens. Selfishly, I also want our schools to be the best they can be. Property values are directly tied to high quality schools that attract families who will pay for the opportunity to live in Burbank.
Parents and neighbors, we must turn this around. I implore you to vote for change this November. I am supporting LARRY APPLEBAUM and BRIAN SMITH for School Board. They will demand better outcomes for our students and stop squandering our scarce resources.
Jef Vander Borght
former Mayor, City of Burbank