Three current Burbank Unified school board members and one challenger have filed preliminary papers to run in next year’s election.
Incumbents Roberta Reynolds, Ted Bunch and Dave Kemp will seek to protect their seats against challenger Gregory Bragg in the Feb. 22 primary election.
The election, which will include the school board and City Council primaries, will be conducted by mail-in ballot. It comes as Burbank Unified is facing a multimillion-dollar deficit in its two-year budget projections.
Bragg, who ran unsuccessfully for the school board in 2009, said he is eager to bring fresh energy and ideas to an institution that has grown increasingly stale. There is rarely any rigorous debate or discussion among current school board members, Bragg said.
“I think we are cheated as voters, and our students are being cheated, if there is never any dissent among the board members,” Bragg said.
The head of sales for the Burbank-based broadcast services company Bexel and the parent of three Burbank Unified students, Bragg said the board needs a long-range development plan. And the district should explore public-private partnerships with companies that could bring much-needed technological resources into the district, Bragg said.
“We are not thinking about the future,” Bragg said. “We are so focused on today and just getting through today’s budget [crisis] that we have no plan for five years from now.”
If elected, he would also look into creating an incentivized system where teachers and administrators are rewarded for performance, Bragg said.
“As a member of the Board of Education I will always ask one question — is this good for the students?” Bragg said. “If the answer is no, then I will stop there and will go no further. Students will always be the first priority.”
But incumbents said the current board already contains the right mix of management and education experience, and has carefully led the district through a challenging time.
Bunch, a former Burbank Unified teacher who was first elected to the board in 2003, said he and his colleagues helped to improve arts and physical education instruction in Burbank elementary schools. Standardized test scores are also on the rise, and the new superintendent, Stan Carrizosa, has been well received by the community, Bunch added.
“I am interested in making sure that the school district is functioning well, and making sure teachers have what they need in order to be successful,” he said.
The district has done a good job of recruiting and grooming top-notch teachers, Kemp said, putting Burbank Unified on the academic map. A former Burbank High School teacher, coach and athletic director, Kemp said that the board members will have to weigh myriad difficult financial options in the coming years, but that they are up to the challenge.
“We are optimistic that we can overcome the obstacles,” Kemp said.