New year promises change

Tim Willert

When Burbank Unified students begin a new school year Thursday, they

will encounter new teachers, administrators and programs -- and in

some cases, ongoing school construction and a reduction in services.


School district administrators predict 15,288 students will be

enrolled in school before the end of the month, a slight drop from

September 2002.

“I won’t know for sure until I see the white of the eyes,” said


Alexis Sheehy, the district’s director of secondary education.

Nearly 200 teachers who received layoff notices in March because

of the district’s budget crunch were rehired, and will be joined this

fall by 40 new teachers, said Kim Anderson, the district’s

coordinator of professional development.

“Everyone’s coming back renewed and energized and ready for the

challenges the school year has to offer us,” Anderson said.

While budget cuts spared most teachers, some administrators,


counselors, nurses and custodians weren’t as lucky.

Some middle school campuses will have fewer assistant principals

and counselors, and the equivalent of 14 full-time custodians have

been eliminated throughout the district.

The district’s custodial services overtime budget also has been

cut in half, from $132,964 last year to $66,482 for the 2003-04

school year.

As a result, classrooms at every school in the district are going


to be cleaned every other day. Last year, elementary school

classrooms were cleaned every day. Restrooms and kitchens, though,

will still be cleaned daily, Sheehy said, adding that afterschool

events such as dances, athletic events and open houses will be

affected as well.

“Absolutely, it’s going to be a challenge,” she said.

Anderson, meanwhile, said district employees would have to make

the best of reduced staff and services.

“Everybody in the instructional services department has taken on

new roles in addition to what they normally do to take up the slack,”

Anderson said. “Other departments are feeling the pinch as well.”

Bruce Osgood, at Burbank High, and Daniel Hacking, at Muir Middle

School, will begin new tenures as principal. Other recent

appointments by the board of education include Hani Youssef as

assistant principal of discipline at Burbank High, and Ron Andrus as

assistant principal at Miller Elementary School.

The district will unveil a new standards-based language arts

program for students in kindergarten through fifth grade, and for the

first time in a decade, high school students will receive new French

and Spanish textbooks, Sheehy said.

Despite fears that class-size ratios would grow as a result of

proposed layoffs, Sheehy said existing ratios would not change.

For kindergarten through third grade, there will be a maximum of

20 students per teacher, the same ratio for ninth-grade English and

math classes. For every other classroom, 30 students per teacher is

the maximum, she said.

Students attending Muir Middle School and Burbank and Burroughs

high schools will be greeted by ongoing construction. Other schools

received upgrades over the summer break.

“I think that parents and students are going to be excited to see

the new facilities,” Sheehy said.