Let’s Talk September 2018

Q: What is the school board’s position on daughter/son dances? There are complaints about them every year. In other districts, they have been banned in favor of more inclusive events, decisions based on legal actions, school board/DOE objections, and ACLU statements.

A: We reminded the principals that if school sites have these types of events, they need to make sure that their practices are inclusive. Please contact your principal if you have a specific concern about an event.

Q: I read about one-time funding to build more classrooms to provide for full day kindergarten.  https://edsource.org/2018/california-districts-can-renovate-build-kindergarten-classrooms-with-help-from-new-funding/600809   Will our district be applying for these funds?

A: Office of Public School Construction (OPSC) is currently analyzing the bill in preparation of program implementation. More information is expected from the Office of Public School Construction.  When it becomes available, the grant will be reviewed for consideration. Edison Elementary School is the only site that may need additional classrooms if we ever went to full day kindergarten.

Q: Why is a Kindergarten school day (4hrs) shorter than a TK day? It is hard for them to go from almost full days to half days. Why do the schools in Burbank have different K hours? Some are half day and others are close to full.

A: According to our collective bargaining contract, the length of kindergarten is determined by a vote of the kindergarten teachers, BTA, and the principal at each school site.

Q: Will there be a follow up to the Mental Health meeting that was held at the Burbank Adult School May 2018?

A: BUSD is offering two parent/child mental health awareness sessions in October to connect BUSD parents/students to local mental health resources. Two sessions of the same presentation will be offered. One on October 22 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm at Burbank HS and again on at October 24 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm at John Burroughs High School. The Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC) meets the third Tuesday of every month from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm.  The meetings are livestreamed and archived on the district Wellness Programs & Services homepage at https://www.burbankusd.org/District/Department/9516-Wellness-Programs-and-Services/25969-Untitled.html  A Wellness Symposium is planned for February 2019. Schools are also providing additional informational trainings and the district is compiling a calendar of events which will be shared.

Q: If the Parcel Tax passes, what is the procedure for deciding how the $9 million will be spent?  The explanations that are currently being provided, as to how it will be spent, are very vague.  How will the Oversight Committee be chosen?  If the Parcel Tax does not pass, will there be cuts in the budget? What things might be cut?

A: The Oversight Committee will be similar to the School Facilities Oversight Committee (SFOC) for the bond Measure S. Community members will complete an application and the Board will select members. The budget for the parcel tax (Measure QS) will be presented to the committee each year before a recommendation is made to the School Board. This process/timeline will be aligned to the LCAP and budgeting timeline.

Here is a link to a draft budget that would be reviewed and modified (as necessary) if Measure QS passes. https://legistarweb-production.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/attachment/pdf/184867/Parcel_Tax_050918.pdf

If Measure QS does not pass, there will be cuts. The district currently faces a structural deficit of $2.5 million. All programs will be reviewed, especially items that we have added over the last five years and/or programs and supports that we have in Burbank that other school districts do not have. Some items that will be reviewed include the elementary music program, middle and high school art programs, the GATE program, college and career courses at the high school level, middle school world languages, assistant principals, professional development for teachers, elementary PE, etc.

Q: Last year the district did fundraising for middle school and high school musical instruments. I heard that they met their 10% goal but will continue fundraising this year. Why isn’t the district going to fundraise for a different arts department this year or for musical instruments for the elementary schools?

A: Since our need is still over $1 million for secondary musical instruments our district focus is going to remain on that need. If specific grants are available for other needs, we will pursue those as well.

Q: How many elementary schools have classrooms with flexible seating? Have middle schools and high schools considered trying it?

A: We are surveying the schools to see how many classrooms have flexible seating. Anecdotally, we have noticed more classrooms with flexible seating, even in middle school and high schools.

School Site Classrooms with flexible seating # classrooms
Disney No 0
Edison No 0
Emerson Yes 1
Harte No 0
Jefferson Yes 8
McKinley No 0
Miller Yes 2
Providencia Yes 1
Roosevelt Yes 1
Stevenson Yes 7
Washington No 0
Muir Yes A couple of examples were shared
Luther Yes 1
Jordan Yes 2
BHS Yes All math classes are CPM – they sit in groups of 4

We have a Spanish class that uses no desks, just chairs

Science classes are shifting towards working together at tables instead of single desks

Couple special ed classrooms have unique shaped desks to allow for grouping

Many classrooms have different seating arrangements (arrange desks in large circles) for discussion purposes (Socratic).

MHS & Mag Park Yes We have a standing desk (which isn’t as popular as we thought it would be), we have stools, we use tables outside the classroom, students can sit at tables or individual desks, and in the science room, students can sit at lab tables (higher than desks) when working on any subject matter.  At Mag Pk, students have “teacher desks” which they are very comfortable with as the students are in that one room for a majority of the day.  One classroom and the group room have couches and bean bags.

Q: At the BAFA Community meeting on Thursday, Peggy Flynn handed out some charts that were labeled “Elementary Student Arts Access”, “Middle School Student Arts Access” etc. There were circles, each shaded to indicate BUSD funded programs vs site funded programs. I’m very confused as to how each of these categories is being defined and how to interpret this handout. To pick Jordan Middle School, as an example, they list band as a BUSD funded program. On Back to School night the band teacher told the parents that the program costs roughly $17-18k per year and the district pays for $4k of that. They then ask the parents if they are able to donate and help with fundraising. I have no problem with what the teacher communicated and that parents are asked to donate to the program. If I did not have a child at Jordan, I would look at this chart that was handed out and assume that the district was fully funding the entire program. Is there a way of explaining to parents when handing out these types of materials that the majority of district VAPA programs are funded through both site and BUSD funding?

BUSD Arts for All —  Main Page  https://www.burbankusd.org/afa

Burbank Arts for All – Then & Now (charts)  https://www.burbankusd.org/files/user/509/file/Burbank%20Arts%20for%20All%20-%20Then%20%26%20Now(1).pdf

A: The chart that was presented takes into account the cost of the instructor(s) in the program. The program is not fully funded, but the majority of the cost is funded by the district with additional support from the site boosters.

Q: From reading intervention to PE, why does each school run so independently? Does the district provide best practices? Is it up to each school’s administration or individual teachers?

A: Each of our school sites has different needs. The individual sites are the ones who can identify their needs best. However, there are many more similarities than differences. At the District level we do review the practices and what is working or not working with each individual principal.

Q: Is there oversight for physical education? Why can one middle school focus on running while others do not? Two out of five days of kids running seems to greatly limit any education time for teaching ball skills, agility, or team sports. Also, there has yet to be any instruction on proper form, shoes, self-care, etc. I am unable to see an explanation in the physical education standards. Why is this a district supported program at only one school that accounts for 90% of a grade?

A: While running and cardio fitness is important, we will look into this. It is our expectation that the schools would be offering similar physical education programs. We are not aware of any teacher requiring running to be 90% of a grade. Please speak with your teacher and/or administrator to clarify.

Q: Why do grading scales vary by teacher rather than by subject, by grade, by school, by district?

A: See below.

AR 5121 provides a scale for grading:

Grades for Academic Performance

For grades K-3, students’ level of progress for each grading period shall be reported as follows:

O         Outstanding

S          Satisfactory

N          Needs Improvement

For grades 4-12, grades for academic performance shall be reported for each grading period as follows:

A          (90-100%)        Outstanding Achievement             4.0 grade points

B          (80-89%)          Above Average Achievement        3.0 grade points

C          (70-79%)          Average Achievement                    2.0 grade points

D          (60-69%)          Below Average Achievement       1.0 grade points

F          (0-59%)            Little or No Achievement               0 grade points

I           Incomplete                                                             0 grade points

Teachers are required to adhere to the policy above, however Education Code 49066 states that:

When grades are given for any course of instruction taught in a school district, the grade given to each pupil shall be the grade determined by the teacher of the course and the determination of the pupil’s grade by the teacher, in the absence of clerical or mechanical mistake, fraud, bad faith, or incompetency, shall be final.

(b)  The governing board of the school district and the superintendent of such district shall not order a pupil’s grade to be changed unless the teacher who determined such grade is, to the extent practicable, given an opportunity to state orally, in writing, or both, the reasons for which such grade was given and is, to the extent practicable, included in all discussions relating to the changing of such grade.

Q: Is iReady a district supported program? Why? Are there any independent studies to show its effectiveness and support its use?

A: iReady is not provided to the sites by the district. Instructional Services staff meets with the school leadership to see evidence that the program is effective. The schools that are using the program have found it to be an effective program. They use both baseline assessments, grades and SBAC scores to measure effectiveness. They are not relying on the data from outside studies because they are not completely impartial. The school sites are using their own site results to make decisions about whether or not to continue with the program.

Q: In terms of school funds, does the school district provide guidance to schools as to programs/tools they are allowed to use or are schools able to identify, pay for, and implement programs they find on their own? Why? If schools pick their own, how does the district ensure effectiveness?

A: The schools work with Instructional Services to first demonstrate the need and then identify the means they will use to address this. If it is a new program or model, then it is introduced as a pilot. If the pilot is successful, then the site may continue and possibly expand it. Other sites would then be free to use the new program or model.

Q: Why do some schools in BUSD have uniforms? How do they get implemented into a school?

A: Washington implemented uniforms back in the 1990s. The school community along with the principal and staff joined together to adopt this policy. The community gathered signatures through a petition which was presented to school district staff and subsequently to the Board of Education.  The Board voted to allow Washington School to institute its uniform policy.

Schools that wish to implement a school uniform are required to follow Board Policy and Administrative Regulation 5132.1 Uniforms. In that Board Policy it notes that the process to implement a schoolwide student uniform policy be a collaborative endeavor between the principal, staff, and parents/guardians. The request for uniforms is made to the Board of Education based a vote or parent survey.

Q: I would like to know how Burbank Unified School District is handling cell phones and students. How is BUSD communicating safety protocols, ethical phone uses, the danger in forwarding a message, the danger of taking inappropriate photos and what happens when text, emails, photos are forwarded getting into the wrong hands.

I am asking this question so we parents can reinforce what BUSD is communication to our children.  Does BUSD have any resources, Webinars, upcoming social media parent forums?

A: The District has an “Acceptable Use of Technology Agreement,” which is provided to students and parents and signed by all students, as part of their registration packets at the beginning of the year. This Technology Agreement provides students with guidance as to when cell phones or electronic devices can be used at school, and includes a District Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, which provides more specific language regarding requirements for usage, and progressive discipline for improper usage. There are also resources have been posted on the Wellness Programs and Services webpages under “Words of Wellnesshttps://www.burbankusd.org/District/Department/9516-Wellness-Programs-and-Services/28035-Untitled.html  We share information and resources with staff via newsletters, meetings, and a shared drive. We are planning a parent education session in January 2019 to address bullying and will include a component on safe use of social media. Additionally, each secondary school can provide you with information about what they are doing to address this issue.

Q: It seems a couple of the elementary schools are having some big ant problems, in classrooms, cupboards, even getting into the kids lunches.  Supposedly, there is only 1 maintenance person in the district that can take care of this.  Is that true, and if so, how do we get them some help to deal with this?

A: Yes, we only have one person who takes care of our pest needs. However, he should be able to address the need after a site puts in a work order. Please note that there are now stricter requirements for pest control, spraying is not the first option and now requires notice, etc., but we will work on the situation until it is corrected.

Q: Sometimes the answer we receive to questions is “We will look into it” or “We need to review for more details.”  Can those questions be added to the list the following month with an answer that includes the research that was done? (See several follow up questions below.)

Asked in March 2018

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.

Follow-up A: 2017-2018 = 11; 2016-2017 = 9; 2015-2016 = 7

Asked in March 2018.  This answer is a link to the standards, not to the curriculum.  The website does not appear to have been updated with the middle school curriculum.  We were told that if we wanted to see the curriculum, we should go to the “Teacher Resources” tab on the BUSD Arts for All page. Where can we find the middle school curriculum for Theater, Dance, Fine Arts, and Music?

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: Each of our middle school art teachers develops their own curriculum based on the standards. You may contact them directly to learn about their curriculum.

Asked in March 2018.  Was the report from the School Sites presented? How can parents see it?

Q: Follow up on question from September 2017 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.

Follow-Up A: We have collected the reports from each middle school PE department and will report out when we update the board on the progress of the 3-year Arts Plan. The goal is to present to the Board before winter break. In the meantime, please feel free to speak with your teacher to discuss what they are implementing this year.

Asked in March.  Have you found other opportunities for safety training?

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.

Follow-up A: Our budget situation has not improved, so we are not able to add a pupil free day in October. We are continuing to work with BPD to offer trainings that would not cost additional funding.