Stakeholders need to step up

Twenty-five bucks here, 100 bucks there — multiply that by thousands and it can add up to one big problem for Burbank Unified.

Legislation recently signed by Gov. Jerry Brown prohibits school districts from charging students fees for everything from transportation to away sports games to drama costumes. It was drafted in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union that claimed the fees violated California's constitution, which guarantees a free public education to all students.

So Burbank schools have been grappling with how to continue to fund these activities, particularly because it appears students and their parents haven't voluntarily ponied up the cash.

It's hard times for everyone these days, so it's no surprise that many parents struggling to make their household budgets work have chosen to forgo plunking down money for uniforms and supplies in lieu of stocking the fridge. In the back of their minds, they may be thinking, “the district will cover it.” But Burbank Unified is struggling to meet its own household budget, burdened by years of steady cuts in state education funding that have opened a projected multimillion-dollar deficit for next school year.

There's no easy solution, but until the district can get a handle on how to cope with the added financial burden, it will be incumbent on all stakeholders — parents included — to step up and fill the gap. If parents can't afford to pay, there will no doubt be a multitude of fundraisers this year to lend a hand.

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