Letter to the Editor: Retired Teacher Has Concerns With a Council Members Take on the BUSD


Letter to the Editor:

I am a Burbank homeowner and a retired teacher with 25 years of service with the Burbank Unified School District. I was an officer in the Burbank Teachers Association, a teacher of the year at my school and an Honorary Service Award recipient.

It is obvious to me that in his letter to MyBurbank, City Councilmember Konstantine Anthony did not do “due diligence” in researching issues concerning BUSD.

The failed parcel tax measures rejected twice by Burbank voters cost the District almost $70,000. In the research phase, neither came back showing there would be a 66.6% vote in favor, which is the threshold to pass a parcel tax.  They did not miss “by a hair”, as Councilmember Anthony said – they failed dramatically, and teachers were deceived and disappointed.

Most parcel taxes that have passed in California are flat taxes that tax both residential and commercial landowners. Parcel taxes of that nature, different from what BUSD proposed, have passed in many districts throughout California. Had the District constructed their proposed parcel tax along these lines, and partnered with Burbank’s business community, which offered to support such a tax, Burbank Unified School District would have gained $6 million a year in additional funding. District leaders have only themselves to blame.

Councilmember Anthony now seeks to attack business in Burbank with the very socialist idea labeled Tax Amazon. This really means: tax our major employers such as Disney, Warner Brothers, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, IKEA, and many other businesses that own property here as well as small businesses that will face large new leasing fees.

Instead of this clumsy approach, we should be building partnerships with our Burbank businesses who help drive our economy. They have supported BUSD in the past in many ways, and repeatedly have offered to do so again.

As for Councilmember Anthony’s take on education, yes, the school district has done a good job in the area of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and has supplied teachers with important training. But to say that BUSD’s banning of books is merely a “distraction” is false. Go talk to English/Language Arts teachers and they will tell you it is undemocratic and is a practice of authoritarian countries.

If we as Burbank voters follow Councilmember Anthony’s approach to school board endorsements, which seems to hinge on support for narrowly framed big new taxes, we will see a further decline in our reputation and further flight of teachers and administrators. Far better for us to size up each candidate with respect to how they envision solving BUSD’s problems and educating our children.

Barry Sarna
BUSD teacher (retired)


  1. More taxes are not required, better financial management is essential.

    Proposition 98 already mandates approximately 40% of the General Fund revenue towards education: https://lao.ca.gov/Publications/Report/3526

    Total pay and benefits of BUSD employees is, in multiple cases, higher than that of the State of California governor. See: https://transparentcalifornia.com/salaries/school-districts/los-angeles/burbank-unified/

    Let’s call for school choice (such as having charter schools in Burbank) so that BUSD faces some competition and improves not only its spending numbers but also improves outcomes.

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