Let’s Talk October 2016

Q: Building on last week’s discussion about “Go Fund Me” etc., Measure S funds originally mentioned e-readers. We understand that these may have fallen off because of shifts in budget, but PTA is hearing about teachers looking for this kind of technology in the classroom. Some teachers want Kindles for small group work and some are wanting to create listening stations where kids could plug in and listen to stories or even music. It seems these teachers— let’s say 5 out of 25— are in a difficult position. Because it is not school-wide, Principal discretionary funds, PTA funds, and even District funds would be hard won if they are be funneled to only a few. Thus, this teacher is left to pay out of pocket for the tech he or she feels is necessary. Where can this teacher go for funds, and what if the teacher does have an awesome class that wants to raise money and gift these items to her?

A: School technology has not been eliminated due to shifts in budget. We are no longer purchasing e-readers, but we are purchasing classroom technology. Measure S funds are currently being used to purchase and pilot HP Streams in some of our secondary classrooms. We have an instructional technology taskforce that is evaluating best practices and will recommend which devices to purchase going forward and we welcome parents to participate.

In regards to the example you give above. If a teacher meets with the principal and reviews the technology with our IT department (to ensure it is appropriate), they can then try to get site funds, then booster funds. If it is an approved technology and they cannot secure funding, they can then request items on crowdsourcing sites. Please note with any crowdsourcing, if the school/district is mentioned, the funds raised are for the school district and not the individual teacher. Anything raised or purchased will remain with the district. Kindles are not a district approved technology.

Q: Our classroom asked us to take down the FB page and they are replacing it with a website. We’re told this was “requested by the district” however, many other classrooms still have a Facebook page. Can we find out what the district policy is for having a FB page that is for the parents, managed by the parents and does not have the school info on the page. I do understand managing photography of the kids is an entirely another topic. Thanks in advance 🙂

A: The school district does not trump the 1st amendment, but whoever or whichever organization creates a FB page is responsible and liable for any pictures they post without consent of all individuals. Also, individual sites cannot use BUSD or school logos/names.

Q: It looks like LAUSD is voting today to push the start of school to after Labor Day. A few reasons being children do not get the play time they need because of being indoors due to the August heat and also the cost of AC is very high during this time. Is BUSD pushing their start date later next year like LAUSD is?

A: No. Last year we conducted a survey to collect feedback on our calendar and we did not have a majority of individuals who wanted to change the calendar (no one wanted to start later and end after Memorial Day). There is a calendar committee that reviews the calendar each year and is open to parents, and then it is negotiated.

Q: Can we please get days off for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur like LAUSD does?

A: Last year we conducted a survey to collect feedback on our calendar and we did not receive a majority of individuals who wanted to change the calendar (no one wanted to start earlier or end after Memorial Day in order to accommodate other days off). There is a calendar committee that reviews the calendar each year and is open to parents, and then it is negotiated.

Q: When will we get the calendar for the 2017-18 school year?

A: http://www.burbankusd.org/District/1131-calendars.html

Q: If the district is paying for disaster preparedness, does that mean they’re going to cover the cost of having our staff and yard duties trained in CPR and first aid?

A: Each school site has individuals who are required to have CPR training — the district covers the cost of those individuals. We do not cover the cost for those individuals who do not have the requirement in their job description. In addition, the district is using one-time funds to help replenish emergency supplies/kits.

Q: [The] answer to last month’s question about providing gun safety awareness to parents was that [the district] didn’t want the children to have possession of materials for that purpose. Other solutions weren’t offered. What are some ways the district can educate households on gun safety/storage and encouraging community dialogue about safety? Would he be willing to partner with BPD? Provide information to parents when they receive their back to school packets (which go directly to them and not through their children)?

A:  It was not the District’s decision – it was mine (Matt Hill). As I have mentioned previously, I find your materials inappropriate to share with children. Please work directly with the BPD, the City of Burbank, or any other organization that can get this information directly to parents. Back to school packets are not an appropriate avenue.

Q: Where does the district stand with requiring students to wait for snack and lunch/recess to use the restroom?

A: This is a classroom decision. Please talk with your child’s teacher. If your teacher is not responsive, you may speak with the principal.

Q: You are working toward 100% graduation. Is that 100% of those who begin their senior year or 100% of those who begin in 9th grade?

A: My goal is for all children to graduate starting with the time they enter BUSD.

Q: There was a special Board Meeting to discuss the Arts Plan and create a 3-year plan.  Were those goals set at that meeting? Is the 3-year plan written and where can we see it?

A: The goals were not set during that meeting. The Board asked for us to look at expanding music instruction TK-5, Dance in Middle School, Theater in Middle school, alignment of instrumental music, and a coordinated fundraising/partnership approach to supporting the arts. We are working on options for each of these topics. We should have a draft by January.

Q: It has come to my attention that our middle and high schools in Burbank are offering a computer applications class of some sort, but that it is an elective and not a requirement for all students. In order to prepare our students for life beyond high school, I believe that they must have basic word processing, presentation and spreadsheet skills including but not limited to applications like Word, PowerPoint and Excel. In my opinion, it would valuable to open up a discussion with parents, teachers and the district about computer applications skills for students given our emphasis on the 21st century classroom. Are there currently any such discussions occurring?

A: Yes. the new California State standards embed computer skills into many of the standards.