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School Board Approves Independent Learning Academy

The Burbank Unified Board of Education approved the creation of the Burbank Unified Independent Learning Academy (ILA) Thursday evening, with plans to begin the pilot program on September 8, 2014.

BUSD LogoThe program will be staffed by a credentialed teacher and open on a Monday through Friday schedule from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The ILA will be located at 3715 Allan Avenue in Burbank and also provide instructional support as needed for math, science, social science and English, according to Emilio Urioste, BUSD Director II of Secondary Education.

Right now, the program will be open to those who are considering a full-day independent study program in grades nine through 12.

“There is a need for the district to adopt an independent study program for secondary education,” said Urioste. “This program would provide flexible scheduling and an opportunity for students to become self-directed learners.”

Students in the program will typically work on one or two courses at a time, either online or with textbook-based instruction. With successful completion of class work, a student can complete a five-credit class in four weeks.

Urioste anticipates beginning the program with 20-21 students, generating a yearly revenue of nearly $148,000. He expects annual costs to be close to $135,000 with some additional start up costs of approximately $40,000, including five on site computers.

“The goal is to attract students in other independent study programs,” added Urioste. “Students are seeking options and flexibility.”

“This sounds like a great program,” said Board Member Dave Kemp.

Board President Dr. Roberta Reynolds thanked Urioste and Board Member Larry Applebaum for their efforts developing and promoting the program.

“The goal is to bring in students that we are losing to other programs,” said Urioste.

“We have data of students we have lost, and it is a growing number of students, to an independent study program nearby,” added Superintendent Dr. Jan Britz. “We do want to recruit those students back.”

They are also looking at other students who may not feel traditional high school is the best option, continued Britz. While not a credit recovery program, students could possibly use the ILA to complete credits required for graduation.

Urioste and Britz emphasized the Independent Learning Academy pilot program is expected to evolve and change as it is put into action in the coming years.