A special Board meeting was held to discuss program reinstatement priorities and hear public comments from teachers, administrators, parents and community members after the announcement from Governor Jerry Brown’s office that significantly more money would be provided to California public schools in the coming years. Burbank Unified Board Members and administrators heard concerns and input in a long public comment session and then discussed items in a public study session held in the BUSD Board Room on Thursday afternoon, January 9.
Superintendent Dr. Jan Britz also emphasized the special session was the beginning of a process for the district to come up with a priority list, after hearing from all the stakeholders who wish to comment on the reinstatement of programs that had been cut since 2007. Many school principals, staff and teachers spoke and underlined the need for full-time curriculum specialists and nurses, more custodial and English Language Development support, class size reduction, more counselors at the high school level, assistant principals at the elementary level, librarians and more.
“Last time we had money it was 2006-7. It’s been all cuts since then,” Board Member Larry Applebaum commented at the session. He admitted, “There are a lot of needs in this district and a lot has been cut and we have to be very prudent in what we add. Many employees haven’t had raises in years and we have a responsibility to pay them and thank them for sticking with us.”
Applebaum also mentioned his deep support for bringing back the World Language program and for foreign language classes beginning in seventh grade throughout the district. Applebaum stated, “A middle school language program is very important.”
Dr. Britz again emphasized that the initial priority list information published for the special meeting mentions services and programs that have been cut and that any movement forward will depend on accountability, transparency and the input of all stakeholders, from parents and teachers, to principals, administrators, directors and community groups. She mentioned reaching out to school site PTAs and Booster clubs as a way of getting that input.
“We plan to go slow and make the priority list and work from that and get input on what might be restored,” Britz commented, adding, “We want to capture the interest of parents and students and offer those programs that will pique their interest and keep them in Burbank.”
Currently, there are no costs or timelines for reinstatement of programs, just discussion of ideas and information gathering. A March Board Meeting is planned to discuss the Local Control Funding Formula and its impact on the budget, in addition to a review of budget cuts since 2007 and the development of a priority list. The District welcomes input from all stakeholders and contact information can be found here and information to contact BUSD Board Members here.