Let’s Talk January 2020

Q.   What is being done for the recycling program at the elementary schools? What would it take for more recycling options to be added? i.e., batteries, straws, plastic?

A. We are open to expanding recycling options (i.e., batteries, etc.). In some instances, we will need to look for grants to offset the costs. FYI – straws were removed from “spork kits” 2 ½ years ago and are currently only provided to special needs students upon request. If you have an interest in starting a program, you may contact your principal who will then connect with our Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, Debbie Kukta.

Q. There is a rumor that the district will not approve any NEW programs that school PTAs want to start due to the budget cuts in the district.  Is this correct?  If so, does the size of the program make a difference?  Does it make a difference if it costs the school and district $0?  

A. Given our financial challenges, the Board of Education passed a resolution freezing all new programs. We will need to review no cost programs, but given cuts to staffing, it is unlikely we have the capacity to approve any new programs at this time.

Q. What is the status of the Jordan name change that was voted in last April (2019)?

A. The goal is to finalize a new name by the end of the school year.

Q. What is your definition of equality and equity?

A. Here is a graphic that illustrates the difference between equality and equity:

Q. GATE: We know that GATE could go away if Measure I doesn’t pass. What if we feel that GATE is already not present in our elementary school? Jen Almer did a presentation on all the things that should be going on. What if our school isn’t doing that much? Can we step in and say, “a few game nights that no one shows up to because it’s not advertised that well, doesn’t make a GATE program”. Do we as parents have any room to step in and ask what they are doing to meet any sort of GATE responsibilities?

A. If you have concerns about the GATE program at your school you can first discuss the concern with your child’s teacher, then the principal, then Director of Elementary Education, Peter Knapik, then Assistant Superintendent, Sharon Cuseo.

Q. At the last Let’s Talk, you said that the music teachers are teaching the students how to read music. How do you define reading music? By the time they finish 5th grade, will they be able to read one octave of notes?

A. Please reach out to your child’s music teacher, they can discuss with you their goals and expectations for students reading music.

Q. Luther and Muir offer Orchestra as a class during the school day (8am-3pm) with no cost to the student.  Jordan only offers a Strings program as an after school opportunity that costs the student $300.  When will Jordan add strings as a school day offering?

A. At this time, we do not have resources to expand strings at Jordan or JBHS.

Q. Luther and Muir provide stringed instruments for the students to use but Jordan does not.  Have you thought about contacting the elementary schools to see how many of them have stringed instruments stored in closets that no one is using?

A. At this time, we do not have resources to expand strings at Jordan or JBHS.

Q. Which middle schools have a drama teacher on staff that teaches a drama class between 8am and 3pm?

A. Muir and Luther offer drama during the day. Jordan has an after-school class.

Q. When does BUSD plan to change the high school start times to 8:30am?

A. We are starting the conversation with our teachers and sites to understand the implementation steps needed. The requirement is to implement by the start of the 2022-23 school year.

Q. What is a “Sunset Clause”?  My friend said the parcel tax had one, but it isn’t explained on the flyer.

A. It is the end date for the parcel tax. The parcel tax will automatically end (or sunset) after 12 years.

Q. When we do fundraising for things like Outdoor Science Camp, we have been told that we can’t keep track of how much each student raises and hold each student to donating a certain amount.  Why can companies like APEX come into the classroom and identify kids publicly and comment on how much money they have brought in?  It makes the other kids feel bad.  It could be seen as a form of bullying.  I realize that they have figured out a system to effectively squeeze a lot of money out of parents but they use tactics that we have been told we cannot use.  Also, they are using class time that is supposed to be used for learning.  I have talked to teachers who don’t like it but don’t say anything because their principal has asked them to support it.  Why is this allowed?

A. Please speak with your principal about your concern and send your concern to Peter Knapik.

Q. How can we get more crossing guards?

A. The City funds the crossing guards. Please email your request to your principal and they will work with Peter Knapik to discuss with the City to see if we are able to get more.

Q. When will the webpage be updated to include Stage Tech as meeting the UC/CSU ‘f’ and ‘g’ requirements? https://www.burbankusd.org/site/Default.aspx?PageID=51

A. We have updated it. You can also find the course guide here: https://www.burbankusd.org/cms/lib/CA50000426/Centricity/Domain/82/BUSD%20Course%20Description%20Guide%202019-2020.pdf

Q. If the Parcel tax passes, will any programs be expanded or will the tax just prevent cuts?

A. Yes, the parcel tax will prevent cuts and will allow us to expand programs.

Q. Why don’t we get Columbus Day off since it is a federal holiday?

A. California does not recognize Columbus Day as a school holiday.

Q. I looked up the total requirements for middle school and high school.  Is this correct?

Math — 5 years
English — 7 years
History — 6 years
Science — 5 years
PE — 5 years
Art — 1 year


To see the requirements for UC/CSU entrance, please refer to the course description guide.

Q. Do you ever do assessments that don’t affect the students‘ grades but are just used to see how effective the curriculum is?

A:  Yes, you can check with your teacher to learn the specifics.

Q. Why do classroom teachers need to sit in on the music class but not the PE classes? Are music teachers not credentialed?

A:  Currently, the classroom teachers sit in on the classes because they are the ones issuing the grades. All music teachers are credentialed.

Q. What is the status of the Communications Master Plan? The communication with parents this year about evening Parent Talks has been very ineffective.  Flyers are sparse and confusing.

A:  Given the budget constraints, the Communications Plan has been put on hold until we know the outcome of the Parcel Tax. Flyers for Parent Talks should be sent to either Peter Knapik or John Paramo, depending on the topic. They will distribute to schools/parents.

Q. If there is an active shooter, it is important to have an intercom system that works effectively.  If the speakers in the classrooms lack clarity, the appropriate instructions cannot get out.  How often are the speakers in the classrooms evaluated for their effectiveness? Does the District have funding to replace them if they aren’t working adequately? 

A:  All of our schools have recently upgraded our intercom system (via Measure S bond funds). If there is a classroom that has a broken speaker, please let the teacher or principal know and they will submit a work order.

Q. What is the date for the first day of school for the 2020-2021 school year? Why is the instructional calendar so late this year?

A:  August 17. The instructional calendar was approved by the Board in December.


Q. Since it is difficult to teach classes with so many different ability levels, why don’t you group students with similar abilities in the same classrooms?  As class sizes increase, wouldn’t it be easier for the teachers to teach students with similar abilities instead of having students of all levels in the same classroom?

A:  That is the definition of tracking, which has been found to be discriminatory and is illegal according to Title VI.

Q. Who are the members of the Superintendent’s Advisory Budget Committee?  Does PTA have a representative on that committee?

A:  There are up to four representatives from the Community, Parents, BTA, CSEA, and BASA: Diana Abasta, Nathan Banditelli, Carol
Briggs, Mary Cutone, Robert Dika, Wendi Harvel, Lan Lee, Oscar Macias, Hayk Melkumyan, Matthew Osmond, Juan Redin, Jeff Rosell, Teri Smith, Sue Conway, Greg Miller, Lisa Raluy, Nancy Snowden, Maria Jimenez-Uribe.

Q. What are the class requirements to graduate from middle school? For example, do you have to take 3 years of math or do you just have to complete 6th, 7th, and 8th grade math?

A:  The math requirement for graduation is 2 years of math and the completion of Algebra 1. If a middle school student completes Algebra and Geometry, he or she would still be required to take two additional courses at the high school level, but the Algebra 1 requirement would have been met.

Q. This is from Edsource, “Education was a top priority in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2020-21 budget released last week. The governor is proposing to increase per-pupil spending in California. Newsom’s $84 billion K-12 education budget would also direct $900 million for teacher recruitment and preparation.”  How will this “increase” affect Burbank?  Will it be significant or will there still be cuts if the Parcel Tax does not pass?

A:  The forecast for COLA was 3.0%, but the Governor’s proposal was only 2.29%, therefore the increase is less than forecasted, which means will still have the same proposed cuts, and may need to look for more cuts.