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District officials consider moving Burbank High’s graduation ceremony from campus

District officials consider moving Burbank High’s graduation ceremony from campus
Burbank Unified staff, including Supt. Matt Hill, are considering moving Burbank High's graduation ceremony from the school's campus to Memorial Field, located at arch rival Burroughs High School, because of high costs and seating issues. (File Photo)

This year’s Burbank High School graduation ceremony may very well be extra memorable.

Burbank Unified staff members, led by Supt. Matt Hill, are considering moving the ceremony from Burbank High’s campus to Memorial Field, located at arch rival Burroughs High, because of high costs and seating issues.

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Burbank High’s graduations cost more than double those at Burroughs, while seating fewer attendees, according to a recent Burbank Unified report.

“It’s definitely not equitable given location and just the field location at Burbank High,” Hill said. “They’re always going to be at a disadvantage. We’re always going to have to invest money.”

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Hill added, “I want to have a conversation about moving it to Memorial Field — or is there a better option?”

Although district staff made no formal suggestions, a recommendation is expected during an upcoming school board meeting.

John Paramo, the district’s director of secondary education, outlined during a board meeting late last month the cost differences between the two high schools ever since Burbank High began hosting its own graduation ceremonies two years ago.

Burbank High’s most recent graduation was held on May 25 and came with a $60,416 price tag, which increased from $57,265 in 2017.

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Across town, Burroughs High’s graduation was held on May 24 and cost $26,237.

While there were differences in aesthetics and decorations, Burbank High spent more for many similar services and products.

Burbank High paid more than Burroughs for a stage, chairs and podium ($14,310 more), sound system (an additional $4,130), security ($3,315 extra), graduation programs ($1,330 more) and tickets (an additional $938).

The difference in funding for the stages is for a tall platform at Burbank High, which Memorial Field does not need because of its high, angled seats.

Burroughs did pay more in a couple of areas, including diplomas ($5,194 more) and campus supervisors (an additional $1,052).

However, Burbank High also had special costs not incurred by Burroughs.

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Burbank paid $5,613 for police services, along with $1,764 for a police traffic setup.

“Given the location of Burbank High, the city of Burbank and the police department decided to close off Third Street because of parking,” Hill said.

The total cost difference between the schools was $34,179 in 2018.

“Why one should have to spend so much money seems unfair as well when those funds could be going to a lot of other things that are equally as important,” board member Charlene Tabet said during the meeting.

Though both schools offset graduation costs by selling $10 tickets, distribution of the tickets was not equal.

Burroughs students are given five tickets per family, while Burbank graduates receive four.

Paramo said that while there hadn’t been any issues accommodating Burroughs graduation attendees, some Burbank families had been turned away because of the school’s smaller venue.

In total, Burroughs generated $18,400 in ticket sales, leaving the school to pay $7,837.

Burbank High totaled $20,000 in ticket sales, accepted $7,638 in help from the district and was left to pay the remaining $32,778 balance.

During the last two years, the bill has jumped significantly since Burbank High’s graduation moved from the Starlight Bowl.

The school’s last year at that facility was in 2016, costing Burbank $15,774 and the district $24,065, with expenses for items such as shuttle and fire services costing $2,287 and $2,898, respectively.

“I’m presuming now that we’ve had two years at Burbank High, any real cost savings we probably would have been able to determine at this point,” board member Steve Frintner said.

Prior to 2017, Burbank High held all of its graduations — except one in 1981 when it was moved to Burbank High because of a gas leak — at the Starlight Bowl.

District officials asked to move graduation ceremonies from the Starlight Bowl to Burbank High for many of the same problems they mention now, such as a lack of space for families, problems with parking and high costs.

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