It’s the calm before the storm for Burbank schools.
Burbank Unified School Superintendent Dr. Matt Hill gave his address of the State of the Schools address to a packed house at the Castaway restaurant Wednesday morning, February 19 and put on by Burbank Educational Foundation.
The beginning of the speech is much like Burroughs High School Jazz Band led by Taylor Arakelian and the national anthem sung by talented Burbank High School Sirens, who get all the notes brilliantly.
Dr. Hill talked about all the positives in the schools including that all elementary, middle and high schools have all been classified as a distinguished within California and people in Burbank have begun taking that for granted because of the quality of our schools.
And while the public is taken it for granted in recent years the reasons for the honors are about to fade away in budget cuts which mean having our schools recognized in the future may become problematic. After the parcel tax failed last year schools were forced to make $3.5 million in cuts. Without the passage of Measure I, the schools will need to cut an additional $3.6 million from the upcoming budget.
What will it mean for schools? Along with the first cuts made this past year you will now look at increased class sizes along with the possibility of ending elementary music, middle and high school arts, the GATE program which is the Gifted and Talented Education program, elementary schools and programs, middle school Spanish courses and technology support in the district
Currently, the average school district received $12,000 per student compared to $10,000 per student that the Burbank district receives. As a comparison, Burbank receives $574 less per student than Glendale. Since the district is mandated by state law to have a balanced budget every year cuts need to be made for additional revenue that needs to be found. This is why Measure I is so important to the schools in the future of Burbank.
What was made very clear to the people in attendance is that unless Measure I passes, the schools that people have moved to Burbank for will never look the same. It has been said time and time again that one of the attractions of living a Burbank is the school system.
When you look at the evolution of schools from the days that they used to prepare students for jobs at Lockheed to now, when there are so many jobs in the entertainment field that need to be filled, we’ll see how Burbank schools have adjusted to give their students a chance at high paying quality jobs. The very future health of the school district is at stake.
Ana Connell of the Burbank Educational Foundation ended the morning by stressing the importance of not only voting for the measure, but getting your neighbors out to do the same on March 3. Organizations like the Burbank Educational Foundation and Burbank Arts For All can only supplement minor areas. They will never be able to make up for the majority of funding that will be lost.