Let’s Talk January 2019

Q: What is the school district’s curriculum for Red Ribbon Week? What drug-related language or instruction has been approved for teachers, especially at the elementary school level? Parent volunteers have heard there is no guidance for the school sites, so should schools participate in Red Ribbon Week?

A: The district does not have a standard curriculum for Red Ribbon Week. Each school site has the autonomy to select the curriculum they want to use and or event. If they need assistance, they may discuss their ideas with their Director.

Q: At our high schools are college tours excusable absences?  Parents believe that JBHS and BHS have different theories.  Does the students grade level matter for an excusable tour – 11th or 12th grade? For sports reasons or for academics?

A: Both principals at the comprehensive high schools are excusing college trips. Both are asking for proof of the college visit. Often times, students are invited to be at the college on a special day. The invitation letter from the college would be considered proof, or something from the recruitment office. There have been a couple of occasions where a senior has asked to be excused for college trips more than four or five separate times. Those requests were denied. Typically, the requests are coming from 11th or 12th grade. If there any concerns, please speak to Dr. Paramo.

Q: Currently we do not have an accepted Fiduciary Agreement that our PTAs can use with the District – can we get one where the language has been accepted by BUSD? (please see California PTA’s Fiduciary Agreement)

A: David Jaynes [BUSD Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services] will review the agreement and will follow-up with Carol Briggs.

Q: Can you provide a list of the District Committees that parents can participate in and who parents can contact to find out when the meeting times are?

Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) – John Paramo

Calendar Committee – Sarah Niemann

Mental Health and Wellness Committee – Johanna Chase

Safe and Caring School Climate Committee – Johanna Chase

School Facilities Oversight Committee – Larry Cross

Special Ed Oversight Committee – Tamara Schiern

GATE Advisory Council – Jennifer Almer

District English Learners Advisory Committee (DELAC) – Jennifer Goldenberg

Communication Master Plan – Kimberley Clark

Q: On the California Schools Dashboard, it shows that the performance in math of our 3-8 graders is not as high as their performance in English.  How many years have we been offering RTI to all students in elementary school in reading?  Would the district consider offering RTI to all students in elementary school in math?  Can there be a leveled math program like there is a leveled reading program for all students?

A: The District has provided RTI for many years in ELA and math. The majority of the funding has been concentrated on ELA. However, the District would like to make the funds more flexible for the school sites, so that they can allocate the funds based on the needs of their individual sites. In addition to that, the District is part of a state wide collaborative addressing math instruction.

Q:https://legistarwebproduction.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/attachment/pdf/133075/Enrollment_Report_12-21-17.pdf This report shows that there are 68 resident Burbank students who have received a permit to go to another district and 1,305 non-Burbank resident students who are on a permit to attend BUSD schools. Children that leave the district to go to private schools or to be homeschooled are not part of these statistics.  How many students currently live in Burbank but are homeschooled or attend private schools? Do you have a way of knowing how many students leave BUSD to go to private schools or to be homeschooled? When students choose not to return to BUSD, do you ask them why or what their plans are?

A: For this school year, 15 students left for private school and 12 students left BUSD for online learning/home school.

Q: Can you explain Social Promotion?  How does it work with Board Policy 5123? “Between fourth grade and fifth grade, and between the end of the intermediate grades and the beginning of middle school, fifth grade and sixth grade, and between the end of the middle school grades and the beginning of high school, eighth grade and ninth grade on the basis of the student’s level of proficiency in reading, English language arts, and/or mathematics.”  I thought that if an 8th grade student failed English and math, the student would not be able to participate in the Promotion Ceremony but would still move on to high school.  What is the “level of proficiency” that BUSD requires for a 5th grader to move on to middle school and an 8th grader to move on to high school?

A: The District looks at each individual student and is extremely cautious in how we retain students. We want students to be accountable, but we do not want there to be a negative impact on his or her social and/or emotional health. There is considerable research that the retention itself can have a negative effect on student well-being. With that in mind, the District is conservative in its retention practices. So, the first step is that the school develops a plan to provide interventions for students not performing at grade level in English Language Arts and math. The school continues to monitor student growth by using multiple measures and convenes a Student Success Team (SST) that includes the staff and parents.  It is only when the team agrees that the student has not made progress that a student is retained.

Q: As I understand it, the way a master plan is amended is for staff to have it agendized for a school board meeting. So if parents would like the school board to vote on an amendment that the district is opposed to, there’s no way to do that. Is that correct?

A: No. If parents would like to suggest an amendment, they can take it to a committee meeting. If there is consensus among the parents at the committee meeting, then that amendment can be brought to a board meeting. Staff will just note in the board report their rationale for not supporting the amendment.

Q: Was the Charms software purchased by the School District to inventory all musical instruments or all assets used for the various arts departments?  Has that inventory been completed?  If teachers or Booster clubs purchase equipment through fundraising or Donors Choose, does the District inventory those items?

The Charms software is used for musical instruments at elementary and secondary schools. Teachers are constantly updating their inventory. A booster organization or other fundraising group should donate funding to the district so that the district can inventory the instruments.

Q: Although the topic of PE has come up before there are more questions:  Middle school PE:  So much of the grade relies on the student’s ability to run. There are Olympic athletes, even in track events, i.e. Shot put, who aren’t great runners. Why is the grade determined by one sport not all that are taught? And if they have to determine the grade on only running, why is it not based on improvement vs ability? Is their time getting better vs did they do 7 laps in that time?  The inability to run fast effects a student’s GPA including but not limited to maybe not getting awards/recognized for straight As. How is this fair to the physically slower student?

A: District staff is working with middle school PE teachers
to calibrate grading practices.