Burbank school district plan gets hearing

About 100 people attended a town hall meeting Thursday night where Burbank school officials received feedback from residents about the school district’s priorities for spending state dollars over the next three years.

A list of nine priorities was drawn up during a months-long process in which community members, parents and educators collaborated at John Muir Middle School over what programs and focus areas should receive or maintain funding throughout the district.

The Burbank school board is slated to approve the plan on June 19, following another discussion about it on June 5.

In the plan, nine goals carry equal weight, said Hani Youssef, director of student services for Burbank Unified and moderator of planning discussions.

They relate to improving students’ overall achievement, developing a sense of belonging on Burbank campuses for students and staff, and increasing students’ access to technology and to arts and music programs, among other goals.

The plan was crafted to address how best to spend state dollars that the district expects will slowly increase over the next few years. But on Thursday night, Burbank Unified Supt. Jan Britz cautioned that by 2020, Burbank Unified officials expect to receive only the funding they did during the 2006-07 school year.

“You won’t hear that in very many places,” she said after sharing that the district has made about $100 million in cuts over the past several years.

For a comparison, Britz said the district’s operating budget tallied $119 million last year.

At the beginning of the planning process, she said it appeared some people on the 60-member committee who drafted the plan arrived to the initial meetings with a certain item on their agenda to add to the district’s priorities.

But over time, she said, “I really feel they began to see way more globally…of needs for [all] students in our district.”

About 1,800 surveys were completed and returned to the committee to help them make decisions.

Among the committee members was McKinley Elementary parent David Hunter.

“I think being involved is the only valid way to be a valid critic or proponent of any of these things we’re doing,” he said. “There’s a lot of naysayers who don’t come to these meetings…they don’t understand…this is just the beginning of getting back what we’ve lost over the years.”

Of the dozens of people who addressed the Burbank school board Thursday night, many asked the board to maintain and expand the district’s arts programs, add to its nursing staff and build a more comprehensive music program district-wide.

Many elementary students only receive music instruction every other week from two full-time music teachers. The plan would add three more music teachers to the mix.

In addition, it would add one nurse and counselor at Burbank and Burroughs high schools as well as the three middle schools.

Full-time curriculum specialists would also be added at all elementary schools.

To view a copy of the 50-page plan, visit burbankusd.org.


Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.


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