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Fourteen choices and three picks

Based on candidate numbers alone, making three endorsements for the

Burbank Unified School District Board of Education appeared to be a

daunting prospect before the Leader’s editorial board interviewed all

14 of the candidates in the Feb. 25 election. (Fifteen names appear

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on the ballot, but William Birtell dropped out early in the race and

was not interviewed.)

Fourteen’s an awful lot of people to consider. Fortunately (or

unfortunately, depending upon your perspective), the candidates

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themselves made picking three a good deal easier.

First, let’s get this out of the way: None of the incumbent board

members running for re-election is getting the Leader’s endorsement.

Elena Hubbell, Mike McDonald and Richard Raad have been at the

heart of the district’s troubles over the past year, including the

board’s secret dismissal of former superintendent David Aponik, its

hiring of Gregory Bowman as the new superintendent without launching

a promised national search, and its approval of a budget that forgot

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to include $1.4 million in annual special education expenses, a

deficit that more than doubled by the time the year was over.

Add to that the board’s penchant for getting together and making

decisions outside of closed session -- a flagrant violation of the

Brown Act -- and a general attitude of “we know better, you don’t,”

and there’s simply not much of an argument to be made for keeping the

three members up for re-election.

Several other candidates -- not all, but several -- simply didn’t

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know enough basic information about the school district itself to

give the editorial board confidence they could do the job. We asked

the candidates how many schools are in the district, how many

students attend those schools, and what the district’s annual budget

is. Even ballpark figures on those three items would have been

acceptable. Several candidates -- again, not all, but several --

either were wildly off with their numbers, or didn’t offer any

numbers at all.

Three who did -- and who also offered experience, some new ideas

and signs of leadership -- were Ted Bunch, Dave Kemp and Paul

Krekorian. All three have the Leader’s endorsement and deserve your

vote on Tuesday.

* Bunch, a retired Burbank Unified teacher, is concerned about

the morale of district employees and the disconnect between the

school board and the community. He believes the district’s teacher

salary structure must change so that BUSD can attract top-level

teaching talent, that policies and procedures should be reviewed to

find efficiencies and eliminate waste, and that vocational and music

programs should be restored to schools.

* Kemp, also a retired BUSD teacher, also believes employee

morale is at a low point, and that the district’s finances could be

improved by renegotiating contracts with expensive vendors,

encouraging high-cost employees to retire and not replacing them, and

by leasing unused district facilities to outside interests. He also

favors a restoration of vocational programs and funding for music

programs, and believes the public should be as involved as possible

in all district matters of substance.

* Krekorian, a business attorney, wants to bring renewed

accountability to the budgeting process to restore confidence in the

district’s fiscal management. He believes in parent-district

partnerships, and also thinks the district is not effectively using

its means of communicating with parents and the community. While he

thinks testing is important, he is more interested in a curriculum

grounded in the basics and using the arts, community service and

vocational training to develop well-rounded students.

Voters have a lot of choices for the three positions on the

Burbank school board. The Leader believes these three are the best

people to lead our school district over the next four years.


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