4 Burbank Unified elementary schools win arts education award

The headquarters for the Burbank Unified School District on Olive Avenue in Burbank on Wednesday, Fe
Four Burbank Unified elementary schools were recently honored for their arts-education programs. Pictured is the school district’s headquarters.
(File Photo)

Four Burbank Unified elementary schools were among 13 throughout the state to win the California Exemplary Arts Education Award, the state department of education announced last week.

Joaquin Miller, William McKinley, Providencia and George Washington elementary schools received the honor.

“We know that access to arts and STEAM [which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics] is an important part of closing the achievement gap, and these Exemplary Arts schools put the ‘A’ in ‘STEAM,’” said state Supt. Tony Thurmond in a statement.

Winners were selected based on meeting criteria set by the California Arts Standards for Public Schools as well as improved performance documented on the California School Dashboard.


The art standards’ purpose is to help students “cultivate their appreciation and understanding of the arts in ways that are enjoyable, fulfilling and transferable to personal, academic and professional endeavors; and support them to fully engage in lifelong arts learning,” according to the guidelines.

To be considered for the honor, schools were required to offer instruction to all students in a minimum of three of the five arts disciplines: dance, media arts, music, theater and visual arts. Each of the four Burbank elementary schools recognized offer classes in all five arts disciplines.

“We are grateful the community of Burbank has invested in the arts,” Burbank Unified Supt. Matt Hill said in a statement. “This is another example of how our students thrive when we invest in them.”

The schools also showed improvement in at least one area such as school climate, suspension rates, student engagement, chronic absenteeism, graduation rates, English language or math.


Chronic absences at Joaquin Miller Elementary dropped by 1% in 2019.

Absences at William McKinley Elementary decreased by 0.9% and suspensions declined by 0.4%.

Providencia Elementary improved its math scores by 3.1 points through state assessment tests, and its absences dropped by 2.3%.

George Washington Elementary improved its English language-arts scores by 3.9 points, and its absences decreased by 2.7%.

“Each of our schools [has] crafted comprehensive visual and performing arts programs under the leadership of Peggy Flynn, district coordinator of art and career technical education,” said Peter Knapik, Burbank Unified’s director of elementary education, in a statement.

“The scope of these programs and the people delivering them are of the highest quality, and they have proven to be of tremendous benefit to our students, staff and families,” he added.

The elementary schools will be honored during a ceremony to be held on Feb. 10 at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.

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