Let’s Talk March 2018

Q: This was posted on Facebook about Vaping: “Apparently this Juul thing looks like a thumb nail drive and the kids suck on it in class. My daughter just told me about this today.” Is this happening in our high schools?  What is the Vaping Policy?

A: Electronic cigarettes, also known as Vapes, are styled in a variety of forms and usually contain nicotine which is the addictive drug in tobacco. The CDC cautions the use of vapes especially in young people. As outlined in our Board policy, BP # 5131.6:  the use of alcohol or other drugs adversely affects a student’s ability to achieve academic success, is physically and emotionally harmful, and has serious social and legal consequences. As per AR# 3513. any individual violating district Tobacco or Drug Free Schools policies are subject to disciplinary action.

Q: Regarding the recent student suicides, social media threats (‘BHS’ turned out to be out of state) and Florida shootings or other panic/fear/death or shootings on campus or regarding BUSD students, what is the protocol for communication to students and families in the case of a state of panic/fear after death or shootings?  The social media threat to BHS was not related well or in a timely manner to students and many were contacting parents in fear without receiving information while on campus.

A: Burbank USD staff and community partners provide support, resources, and counseling to help students and staff adjust after a crisis. Burbank USD works in concert with Burbank PD to release information while maintaining safety and privacy. We continue to collaborate with civic and community partners to refine emergency planning and safety processes to minimize risks and maximize outcomes in the event of an emergency, disaster, or crisis.

Q: When outside security is hired, either by the district or by our school-connected organizations, are the officers provided by the security company fingerprinted and Livescanned? Have they had the same background checks as other employees and vendors?

A: Yes

Q: Bret Harte Childcare moved temporarily to Washington. Washington kids were bumped out of the Childcare site into the curriculum/science lab room. Now we were told that this move could be permanent. Will there be any funds to accommodate this? 

A: For next year, we are consolidating the Bret Harte and Washington Pre-school classrooms into one classroom. The Washington Child Care classroom will be moving back to the child care building.

We are currently exploring where we will open our new extended Transitional Kindergarten program next year. Before finalizing that decision, we will work with Washington to better understand the option for where a curriculum/science lab room will be located.

Q: Childcare parents have the code to enter and walk through the State run Preschool at Washington. Wandering parents on campus have been an issue due to this access. Will there be any discussion/action to correct this? These parents are not screened for entry. They just need the code.

A: Yes. Parents are being directed to not enter the Washington campus through the Childcare entrance. The site supervisor and office manager have informed parents of this and will continue to monitor and redirect parents who try to access the Washington campus through the Childcare Office.

Q: It seems like there are quite a few 8th graders that are opting to go to private high schools. Do we have statistics on how many 8th graders choose not to continue to BUSD high schools? Has that number increased in the last 5 years?

A: We need some more time to pull and analyze the data, but we don’t believe the number is increasing.

Q: I heard that Bell Jeff High School is closing. Has BUSD considered absorbing it into the district?

A: We welcome any student who is interested in enrolling in BUSD as long as their parents are a resident or work in Burbank.

Q: Can you please explain what the process would be to start the conversation with our school board and district administrators about addressing the current BUSD high school graduation requirements? I think many parents of elementary and even middle school learners would be shocked to know that our high school graduation requirements do not meet college entrance standards. What steps need to happen so that our learners are required to graduate with the minimum requirements to be accepted to a 4 year CA STATE school? It seems that if a district as large as LA unified, with its wider range of socioeconomic and special education populations can manage these hurdles and prepare their learners with this MINIMUM expectation for college, BUSD should be able to accomplish this.

A: We are open to exploring this. In the past this has been brought up, but lost momentum because of the impact on student schedules. With the current graduation requirements hundreds of students take summer school initial credit courses to be able to fit in the electives they want such as band and choir. Adding additional requirements would squeeze these schedules even more.

Q: Can you please share how what percent of our graduating seniors have been meeting the A-G requirements in the past 3 years and how does this compare to these surrounding school districts — LAUSD, LaCanada, Glendale, Arcadia.


2015-2016 2014-2015 2013-2014 2012-2013
Burbank 34 37.3 37.8 33
LAUSD 54.9 51.7 46.1 36.9
La Canada 77.3 77.4 80.1 80.5
Glendale 49.9 50.4 48.2 47.8
Arcadia 63.1 64.7 67.1 67.9


Q: In response to last month’s question about the elementary music program, mastering some of the standards and paying $400,000 for the music program someone asked…  “So we are spending $400K and 94 hours of music instruction a year on a program where students master nothing?   Can’t we at least pick 3 standards and have the students master those?”

A: No, at this time we are not interested in narrowing the standards we cover or the curriculum.

Q: Understanding that the district has a limited number of instructional minutes for music and understanding that “The goal of the BUSD Elementary Music Program is to ensure all students in grades 2-5 have access to music instruction and have exposure to standards-based music instruction. The goal was never to expect elementary students to master all state music standards,” would it be possible to set a goal of having the students master 3 standards by the time they finish elementary school after having 94 hours of music instruction?  And can the students be assessed so that we can determine the effectiveness of our curriculum and of our teaching methods regarding those 3 standards? 

Suggestion for standards :

Grade 2  (This is a 2nd grade standard that they would not have to master until the end of 5th grade.)

1.5  Identify visually and aurally individual wind, string, brass, and percussion instruments used in a variety of music.

Grade 3 (This is a 3rd grade standard that they would not have to master until the end of 5th grade.)

Read, write, and perform simple rhythmic patterns using eighth notes, quarter notes, half notes, dotted half notes, whole notes, and rests.

(If they mastered this skill, this knowledge could be integrated into math.)

Grade 5

5.2 Identify ways in which the music professions are similar to or different from one another.

A: No, at this time we are not interested in narrowing the standards we cover or the curriculum.

Q: I looked at the BUSD Arts for All website under “Teacher Resources” for middle school curriculum.  It only lists theater arts and when I opened the document, it seems to be focused on elementary school.  Where can we find the middle school curriculum for Theater, Dance, Fine Arts, and Music?

A: We will update the link on the website. https://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/documents/vpastandards.pdf

Q: Follow up on question from September Let’s Talk – What have you learned? 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. Teachers are expected to implement the Professional Development they received in the summer. The school sites will be providing a report on how they implemented the PD at the end of the school year. In the meantime, please feel free to speak with your teacher to discuss what they are implementing this year.

Q: Is BUSD working on expanding the number of spaces in ILA so that more students can participate in it?

A: We would like to expand in the future, but we are currently constrained by facility space. At this time, we do not have funding or facilities to add additional classrooms.

Q: Can you explain, especially in the wake of school shootings, why the calendar committee‘s recommendation for a Thursday start of year ’19-’20 calendar that would include pupil free day in October, allowing for support staff training on such things as active shooter cannot be allowed to happen? The suggested calendar seem to be perfect compromise, as no one wanted to start the school year on August 12th and finally gave a much needed break for students and staff in the middle of October, having the added benefit of providing pupil free day of training for teachers and support staff which could be used for school safety. It seems like a small price to pay.  Are we really in crisis mode with the budget, are we in dire straits?

A: Yes, our budget situation is challenging. We were not able to offer a raise for employees in 2016-17 or add programs. Currently, we have the same budget situation for 2017-18 and beyond. We would need to cut something to add a pupil free day. We are currently looking at other opportunities to provide safety trainings during the year.

Q: In light of the school shooting in Florida, it seems that it could have been prevented because this kid posted comments about shooting up a school in social media.  If someone had seen this and looked into it, they might have prevented it.  There are some instances where people do post their intentions online and if people are more aware of this, these tragedies might be prevented.  Is it possible to hire a full-time position at the school district for a staff member to scour the social media of school students for disparaging comments and threats?  The cost of this position would be minimal and would have immense value if it could prevent just one of these mass shooting.

A: See something, hear something, say something has always been a critical component of school safety, especially now in our digital age.  Burbank USD staff, parents, students and community members inform us or local law enforcement of postings indicating a risk to self or others. Sharing what is overheard or seen either on social media or elsewhere can be a vital step in intervening or even preventing a crisis. Burbank PD also advises parents monitor their children’s social media posts, cellphone, and other electronic devices. Together we can intervene and help someone who at that moment is not able to help themselves.

Q: I would like to know more about the TK and JK programs for next year… For example, where they will be held, the hours, before/after school care etc. 

A: The Transitional Kindergarten program will continue to operate the entire school year from 8:30-1:30 daily. The schools hosting Transitional Kindergarten include Edison, Harte, McKinley, Miller, Providencia, Roosevelt, and Washington. The placement of the Junior Kindergarten (students who turn five after December 2nd) program will be dependent on classroom space availability.

We are also looking at an extended Transitional Kindergarten for targeted students (low-income, English Learner, homeless or foster who turn five after December 2nd). LCAP Supplemental funds would be used to support the program if approved in the LCAP.  The naming of the Junior Kindergarten Program may change to Extended Transitional Kindergarten (EKT).

For more information on TK/JK, please click here https://www.burbankusd.org/District/5349-Untitled.html

For more information on child care please click here https://www.burbankusd.org/District/Department/4-Child-Development-Child-Care