Let’s Talk February 2019

Q: In order to make it easier for more parents to participate, can the GATE Advisory Council meetings be streamed like the LCAP meetings and if something comes up for a vote at a GAC meeting can the vote take place on-line or via some means that allows parents who can’t participate during the live meeting to have their votes counted?

A: We will look into live streaming Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) meetings. We would need to explore online voting in more detail so that we can identify and confirm who voted.

Q: On the list of cuts for $3,500,000, there are [Career Technical Education] CTE classes. Which specific classes are you planning to cut?

A: We are still reviewing options based on enrollment and alternative classes available. If we are not able to secure additional funds, we will announce the 2-3 courses that may be impacted by April.

Q: When the district bought ukuleles for Jefferson, I thought it was to get instruments so kids could learn to read music. My son is in 5th grade and they are simply learning to play by ear. What was the reasoning for choosing the ukulele? Who decided on the ukulele? Who is responsible for reviewing the program to see if it’s worth buying ukuleles for all the other schools or if a different instrument should be considered?

A: Music teachers recommended ukuleles to the Board of Education because the instrument allows instruction of standards relating to vocal music while giving students an opportunity to develop standards-based skills in general music while learning to play an instrument. The Site principals evaluate music teachers. The District Visual and Performing Arts Teacher on Special Assignment (VAPA TOSA) and Arts & Career Technical Education (CTE) Coordinator work with and oversee the elementary music teachers and District music program.  

Music theory, including identifying notes and understanding the sounds associated with the characters, is part of the BUSD elementary curriculum. Sight-reading music is a developmental skill. It begins with identifying notes, recognizing and replicating sounds associated with the notes, then learning to put them together, sight reading, and decoding or making music that is notated. 

If you have concerns about your son’s progress, please reach out to your son’s music teacher.

Q: Will the elementary music teachers that are being eliminated replace the band teachers at Luther, Muir and Burbank High? That is a rumor that I have heard from several people. 

A: If we have to reduce up to two elementary music teachers (we are down from three to two, thanks to Burbank Arts for All Foundation’s grant), we would need to review their hire date in comparison to other teachers with similar credentials to understand the impact on the least senior teachers. Please consider contacting Burbank Arts for All Foundation (BAFA) to give a matching donation or give to the Burbank Educational Foundation “All in for Burbank Schools” campaign at www.befgives.org.

Q: You have talked about the state’s rainy day fund as being full. Is there an amount that is required? How is “full” determined? Why does the governor want to put more money in a full account?

A: The Governor has reached the legal requirement, but wants to put additional funding in the account to prepare for a future recession. Our argument is that schools are experiencing a silent recession right now and the State does not need to continue to add to the rainy day fund, instead they should pay down the pension liability so that TK-12 public education receives adequate funding now.


Q: Why is state testing done when students need to be getting ready to take AP tests?

A: State testing is a requirement and we have a limited window of choice. We have to consider the following State directive when determining the window, “Testing shall not begin until the day of completion of 66 percent of a school’s annual instructional days…” After the District determines the window, we work with the school site administrators to determine the test dates for each test.

Q: Why do we have so few dual enrollment classes?

A: We are continuing to work with our community college partners to add more classes. It is a long process to offer dual enrollment classes at the high schools. The latest development was to create a new agreement between the Los Angeles Community College District and BUSD that allows us to expand the program. This agreement was recently approved by both boards of education. The District will be meeting this spring with Los Angeles Valley College administrators to expand the program.

Q: School Safety — This article reviews all the errors that took place during the Parkland shooting:  http://projects.sun-sentinel.com/2018/sfl-parkland-school-shooting-critical-moments/

What are the school district policies and procedures for when there is a gunman on a campus?  Where can I find those? I would like to read them.

A threat on campus would activate a lockdown procedure. Every campus and the district offices have been offered training developed by the Burbank Police Department and BUSD on “Run-Hide-Fight” as well as how and when to initiate and enact a Lockdown procedure. These presentations have also included what to expect from the police when such events occur. The current District’s Board Policy for Lockdown can be found here http://gamutonline.net/district/burbank/DisplayPolicy/477339/. We are also currently reviewing the policy. If updates are made, it will be posted on the BUSD website after it has been approved by the Board.

Who has the authority to call for a campus lockdown?

Any staff member on campus may call for a lockdown. We have a specific procedure for this. Training is ongoing to assure that all staff members know the procedure and feel empowered to call a lockdown.

Do the schools do lock down drills?  Do students know where to be in order to increase their chances of safety?

Yes, all of our schools hold lockdown drills. Teachers have been trained on steps to take to increase the students’ and their own safety in such events. It is crucial for students to listen to their teachers during a Lockdown drill or an active threat situation on campus.

Are all classroom doors throughout the district equipped with safety features so that they can be locked immediately upon hearing that there is a lock down called?

All classroom doors have locks. Most door handles must be locked with a key from outside the classroom. Classrooms in Roosevelt have been equipped with locks that may be turned from the inside.

Have all classrooms been reviewed to assure that “hard corners” are available to students and teachers?

This has not yet been done in all classrooms in the District. As the idea of designating a “hard corner” has only been recent practice, we have begun talking to principals and teachers about how to determine an appropriate space for this.

What are the policies and procedures of the Burbank Police Department in the case of an armed gunman on a BUSD campus?  Where can I find those? I would like to read them.

You contact Sergeant Steve Turner to learn about what they are able to share about their policies. He can be reached by calling (818) 238-3252.

How often do Burbank Police officers have active threat training?

So far this school year, BPD has conducted six active threat trainings in the District.

Q: Does the district music program provide the same scope and sequence in its curriculum across the district just like the district provides in math, English, history and science?

A: The District K-12 music curriculum is based on California State Standards that are sequential, developmental, and adopted by the California Department of Education.

Each credentialed music teacher uses the California State visual and performing arts (VAPA) standards to drive their instructional decisions. They also assess the developmental skill levels of each student and groups of students to determine the learning objectives as they work to further develop skills towards achieving grade level and proficiency standards.

Unlike other subject areas, students receive music instruction once a week. Grades 2-3 receive 30 minutes of instruction each week. Grades 4-5 receive 45 minutes of music instruction each week. In middle and high school, students may elect to take either vocal or instrumental music and receive 52 minutes of instruction daily.

Q: What is the procedure/process of making a change to the school daily schedule? Does the site need parent/student approval as well or just staff? 

A: The first step is for the principal to collect and respond to student, parent, and teacher feedback. The principal then submits the plan to our District Instructional team (Director of Secondary schools, Dr. Paramo and the Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services, Ms. Cuseo). The superintendent then reviews the plan and makes a recommendation to the School Board, who will ultimate vote on any changes.