Let’s Talk September 2017

Q: Why must a high school student be registered for PE in Sophomore year instead of taking it during the following summer or a later year? Why can’t two course sessions of PE be offered during the Summer (that used to be the case when OFY was offering a ‘second’ session)? Also, why doesn’t BUSD offer Independent Study to gymnasts, soccer players, ballet dancers who must study physical fitness outside of school?

A: Students can take PE during two summers (i.e., after 8th grade and after 9thgrade, therefore if they pass the Fitness Gram, they would not need to take Sophomore PE). The state requirement for Physical Education is four years. However, the state allows for school districts to waive two years of PE as long as the student passes the state’s Fitness Gram test and completes two years of Physical Education. The test is given to ninth grade students. Therefore, students must take PE in grades 9 and 10. In the event a student does not pass the Fitness Gram test in the 9th or 10th grade, they must be scheduled into PE in the 11th grade and 12th grade until they pass.

PE credit can be given to students who are involved in athletic programs outside the purview of their home school. However, our district protocol is that the level of competition for this exception has to be Junior Olympic status.

Q:  An American Indian is the current mascot for Burroughs, and the graphic below stands tall on campus. It is culturally insensitive and offensive to some. Where does the district stand on this matter?

A: If individuals have concerns about the mascot, please have them send correspondence to the Superintendent and School Board so that we can start a process to look into this.

Q: What is the reasoning behind changing the business banner time limit? The amount of time associations can hang business banners at the schools for those community businesses that have sponsored an event or program.

A: We are starting a school connected organization/fundraising committee taskforce this fall to discuss this item along with other items related to school-connected organizations/fundraising. If banners are left up too long, they begin to deteriorate. Many organizations sell banners as an annual fundraiser.

Q: Why is it not a priority to put sunshades/sails over our Pirate Ship play area and when will that be fixed and ready for the students?

A: The initial Measure S budget/scope of work did not include a shade structure over the pirate ship. The current upgrade to the pirate ship is being worked on right now and will be available this semester without the shade structure. The shade structure for the pirate ship is in design development; and will be sent to DSA for approval. The shade structure has been master planned and the playground curb has been installed to accommodate the structure once approved (usually takes DSA 6-9 months). This project may be ready for installation by summer 2018.

Q: As Staff Chair, many of the teachers are wondering about the science supplies that go with our District’s new adoption of Stemscopes. Why should the schools/teachers be responsible for purchasing these items and the district isn’t paying for them? Isn’t this part of the William’s Act?

A: The District has not adopted StemScopes. The District is paying for StemScopes as supplementary instructional materials since the State has not gone through the adoption process for science textbooks yet. In the meantime, all students are issued the formerly approved textbook. The school sites are responsible for purchasing the supplies that go along with StemScopes.

Q: My son took math 6-3 last year. He was doing well in the class but on the final he did terribly. The way I saw it, the test showed that he did not learn what he needed to know to move on to algebra. But the teacher said he should take algebra and that he would do fine. She said that I shouldn’t worry about the final, that everyone does poorly on it. If it is not a good examination for determining what the students learned over the year and to determine if they are ready to move on, why do you give them this particular test? My friend had the same experience at another middle school and her teacher told her the same thing. (Muir and Luther)

A: The summative district assessments for math are evaluated at the end of every session: Fall, Spring, and Summer. We will review the student performance data for the tests given last year and revise, if needed.

Q: We understand that PE teachers at the middle schools were given professional development around dance this summer. What rubric will you be using at the end of the year to evaluate how successful that professional development was and if more professional development will be needed?

A: A six-hour workshop was provided to all middle school PE teachers. BUSD Arts for All and secondary dance teachers will work with site administrators, who are responsible for evaluating instructional programs and teachers, to develop a protocol that supports their evaluation of dance units.

Q: At Back to School Night, the middle school PE teachers explained that only one grade level will receive dance instruction. When will it be expanded to all 3 grade levels? What are realistic expectations for what students will learn in their dance units in middle school PE this year? What dance standards for grades 6, 7 and 8 do you expect the students to learn this year?

A: We will follow up with each site to better understand what they are planning for this year.

Q: Two years ago, there was a performance called “Homeland” at John Muir Middle School. After that, the district paid to expand the Drama/Poetry workshop to all three middle schools. I have not heard of any performances. Was that eliminated from the program? Could it be added this year so that the ELL students could perform for the other students at their schools?

A: The ELD-Theatre artist in residency program did begin implementation in 2016-17 and is scheduled to happen again this school year. The main goals are to engage English Language Learners in meaningful, creative work that supports their oral, written, and speaking skills. There may or may not be a community performance. That will be up to the teaching artist and the teachers he is working with. If there is a performance it will be a culminating assessment.

Q: The district bought ukuleles for one school. When will the other schools receive ukuleles? Will the instruction be for 5th graders only or for 4th and 5th graders? When will that instruction begin?

A: Unfortunately, we do not have enough funding to provide ukuleles for all 5th graders. We will continue to work with partners to identify additional funding. The board priority is to focus on 5th graders and not 4th graders. Instruction will not begin until we identify funding, secure instruments, and ensure teachers are ready to teach the curriculum.

Q: Did the music teachers write the curriculum for the ukuleles? At “Let’s Talk” last April, we were told that curriculum would be written over the summer. Are all 5 teachers ready to teach the curriculum once they have ukuleles?

A: Ukulele curriculum was written for all fifth grade music instruction in May 2017. Two of the five elementary teachers are prepared to teach ukulele. The three other teachers will require some professional development prior to a full implementation.

Q: What is the policy for heat? At what temperature is outdoor activity suspended?

A: Please see BUSD Board policy for Unhealthy Air/Inclement Weather .

Q: This question was asked last spring:  Will drama be available for all three grade levels at Luther and Jordan next fall?

A: Jordan: All grade levels. Luther: 7th and 8th grades only. The 6th graders have Musical Theater on the elective wheel.

Q: Are orchestra classes available to all three grade levels at Luther?

A: A violin elective was implemented this school year at Luther. Dr. Macias is working with the instructor and staff members to implement this priority effectively and sustainably.

Q: This question was asked last spring. Can we get a list of what the Film LA money has been spent on for the past 2-3 years? A: The majority of the money is allocated to school sites that host the filming. Please check with your administrator for the details.  In the discussion that followed afterwards, parents explained that they wanted to know specifically how the district spent the money that was given to them. What programs was it spent on last year and at which schools? Mr. Hill said he would get that information. What did he learn?

A: See budget HERE. BUSD Arts for All allocations used in 2014-2017 as matching funds for site BAFA Grants, matching funds for the Los Angeles County Arts for All Advancement Grant, transportation for school arts-related field trips, equipment, materials, and supplies for arts classes, Digital Media and Manufacturing Advisory Board meetings, and arts-related conferences and professional development.

Q: What was the most unexpected thing you learned from the School Climate survey this year?
A: See PowerPoint presentation HERE.

Q: Does the district have a list of the Visiting Artists that were used in BUSD schools last year, their contact info, their rates and which schools they worked at? How can we get a copy of that? If you have it, can you bring it to “Let’s Talk”?

A: We do not have on master list, but you can search the Board reports for individual contracts. Rates are based on individual projects and are negotiated with the artist or organization. A list of artists and organizations with a search engine that allows you to search for specific needs is available at the LA County Arts Education Collective website HERE. No costs attached but contact info to reach out and request quotes.

Q: In the BAFA meeting, Peggy said that an inventory existed for the musical instruments, it just hadn’t been entered into the new software program. Can IMAs get a copy of that? Can you bring the list to “Let’s Talk”? Do you need volunteers to help you enter that information?

A: Instrument inventories are accessible through instrumental teachers. See Appendix H HERE for the data we collected last spring. We are still waiting for some of the scanners to be delivered and we are working with teachers and the Charms manufacturer to schedule training for teachers so that they can tag the instruments and input them into the system. Please reach out to your teachers to see if they would like assistance.

Q: This is the question and answer from last spring. Q: What is the policy on cursing in the classroom by a teacher? It seems to be happening in some classrooms in the middle and high schools. What is the policy on cursing by students?

A: Please talk with your teacher and/or your school principal if you feel that profane, vulgar, or abusive language is being used on school property.

Civility Policy 
Policy for Students
Policy for Employees

Q: A parent reported on social media vulgar language being used at Jordan Can you address these concerns with staff? It is not a situation limited to Jordan. Is this something the Wellness Director would be addressing? Who addresses it while we are waiting for that position to be filled?

A: Each principal addresses these concerns at their school site. Please talk with your teacher and/or your school principal if you feel that profane, vulgar, or abusive language is being used on school property.

Q: My son is in 4th grade. Based on the Visual and Performing Arts Standards for 3rd grade, he should also be able to meet those standards. He did not learn any of these things last year. How does the district determine if the arts standards are being met?

A: Please speak with your child’s teacher and principal about your child’s progress. Principals monitor instruction and curriculum implementation. We have curriculum and assessment rubrics for visual arts, dance, theatre, and music and provide professional development. Curriculum can be found on the BUSD Arts for All website under “Teacher Resources”.

Q: Can you please confirm what the new construction plans are for Disney (not just the new modulars, but the new 2-story building) and what the timeline is?

A: We are still exploring different designs to better understand cost implications. We are also preparing the applications for State Matching funds so that we will have a better sense of additional funding that we may (or may not) receive. Given all of this and Division of State Architecture approvals, construction definitely will not take place in 2018.