Let’s Talk September 2019

Q. A mom brought this to my attention and wondered if it was something Burbank would ever consider doing. I realize the cuts right now probably make the economic portion of this not doable this year. But perhaps this is something PTA could get behind in helping the district make happen, as it seems like an idea that advocates for many children. Beside cost is there anything that would prohibit BUSD in doing a program like this? 


A. We would need time to explore in detail, however, at this time we are not exploring any new programs.

Q. There was a situation in my child’s first grade classroom where the teacher yelled at a child and said, “Shut up.”  That is considered to be a bad word in our household, so my child was upset.  In my opinion, it is inappropriate for the teacher to be yelling “Shut up” at a 6-year-old. What can I do to share my concerns?  I’m afraid that if I go to the Principal, she will go to the teacher and then the teacher will take it out on my child.  So, procedurally, what should I do?

A. If you have a concern, the first step is to speak with the teacher. We have a no-tolerance policy regarding retaliation. If you have any concerns or the issue is not resolved, you may speak to the principal.

Q. From the Physical Education Handbook – “Attendance/Participation: Learners are expected to participate in moderate to vigorous physical activity at least four days per week in this class. Students who are absent, unable to participate, or who do not reach a moderate/vigorous level of participation, will have their grade affected.” Why would your grade be marked down if you have an injury, note, or are out sick and cannot participate? Why is PE treated differently from other Intervention programs if a learner is falling behind or struggling? Are the Instructors being asked to not just evaluate students but to assist in finding their strengths and ideal activities? If running is to be a threshold that must be passed as they enter high school, then wouldn’t it make sense to take the students that do not come by it naturally and work with them on technique instead of just asking them to run every week expect a better outcome?

A. Student’s grades should not be penalized if they are absent because of illness or if they have an injury and cannot participate in physical activity. However, if the student is out sick, they may be asked to make up a run the same way they would make up a math assignment if they were out sick. When it comes to physical injury, a student should receive an alternative assignment until they are able to participate again. Like all other subjects, PE should be differentiated to accommodate students who struggle. If you have specific concerns about your child, please speak to your PE teacher.

Q. We were wondering if the PE teachers, particularly at the middle school level, were aware of the safety standards regarding heat? That the students should have a 10 min water break when temps are above 94…and that activity like running shouldn’t happen if its 94+ degrees. (ADDITIONAL NOTE FROM OTHER CONTRIBUTOR/UNIT) – At Luther, one person’s child mentioned he had PE second to last period on Tuesday (September 3rd – high of 95 that day), and they still had the kids doing the big Tuesday run outside despite the heat. So, if the PE teachers aren’t supposed to be having the kids run in 95+ weather, something is getting dropped.

A. Yes, PE teachers are aware of the safety standards regarding heat. So are the principals. In addition, the district sends out heat advisory notices when the temperature is excessively high. Dr. Paramo will look into the situation at Luther and work with the principal.

Q. Starting this school year, BHS students have early out dismissal every Monday instead of prior years’ every other Monday. Why?  How is the district making up for these lost instructional minutes?

A. 33% of students at BHS are taking a “0” period class. Therefore, the school is able to count all “0” period classes for instructional minutes to the state of California. By adding the instructional minutes for “0” period, the school is able to have an early release day on Mondays to use for teacher professional development. The school is meeting the State requirement for instructional minutes in all academic areas.

Q. On Saturday, 9/7, BHS Football held an on-campus comedy night fundraiser.  One of the five comics swore non-stop, made fun of stage tech students, and made a joke about a school shooting.  Another comic had marijuana in her purse stored backstage which gave off a terrible odor.  There was no BHS admin present.  I understand that the principal had attended a school event the afternoon/evening before, which was his reason for not attending this event.  No one from BHS Football stopped the performance.  Are there rules/protocols/policy in place that require a BHS admin present at an event such as this?  If not, does it fall upon the fundraising organization to monitor/stop the event?   

A. Administrators are not at all fundraising events. They are required to be at all school events that have student participation. However, given the nature of the fundraiser, the event should not have used student help, and parameters should have been set to ensure appropriate material. Dr. Crowther has already addressed the issue to ensure it does not happen again.

Q. Have all the gates at elementary schools been changed? If not, what is the timeline for the ones that have not?

A. If there is a specific concern, please have the school administrator submit a work order.

Q. If the goal of the music program is only to expose students to music (not to master the Visual & Performing Arts Standards), why does the district dedicate all four weeks each month to exposing students only to music? Have you considered doing something like Edison’s art wheel? Can the students be exposed to four different art forms (music, theater, dance, fine arts)?  So instead of having music once a week, they would have music once a month, and they could be exposed to all four art forms over the course of each month?

A. The wheel at Edison is not a replacement of music education. It is an enrichment beyond the base music program. There have been schools that have expressed interest in also offering a wheel of electives, but this is a site budgeting and capacity issue. In addition, because of the District-wide financial concerns, no school is authorized to add a new program. The last piece is that if the community wants the elective wheel to replace the music program, then the Arts plan would have to be revisited as well.

Q. How much additional funding would the elementary music program need to expand enough so that the students mastered some of the standards required by the CA Department of Education by the time they finished elementary school like they do for math, English, and PE?

A. There would be substantial cost to expand the elementary music program. It would also produce some scheduling issues for the schools, as they strive to make sure that the core academics have sufficient time as well. We can discuss this with the music teachers and the principals to study feasibility.

Q. What’s the point of training a music teacher and buying ukuleles if they are only going to use them for three sessions and not learn anything about actually reading music?  I thought that in 4 and 5th grade they would learn how to play the ukulele and read music, even if it was only a simple song like “Row, Row, Row your boat.” Can the teachers please teach them something more than what their classroom teacher could teach them? If not, then what is the point of having a specialized music teacher?

A. The music teachers would like to sit down and answer questions about their curriculum and pedagogy with parents. Please reach out to your music teacher to schedule time to discuss.

Q. Why does BUSD require one full year of Health?  It is not a requirement from the CA Dept. of Education.  What was the reasoning behind this decision by BUSD?

A. The Board of Education and the District administrators believed that there should be sufficient time to address careers as well as health concerns. This has served the students well as we have been able to implement state requirements such as the California Healthy Youth Act and provide access to career curriculum such as the Get Focused, Stay Focused program, which includes the my10yearplan online software.

Q. Why doesn’t BUSD offer a financial life skills (checking accounts, savings accounts, monthly household budgets, credit cards, interest, how the stock market works, insurance, etc)?   My daughter said a couple of these things were touched upon in health but for just a few minutes on one day.

A. We are not in a financial position to add or develop new courses at this time, but it is something we can consider in the future.

Q. Have you considered a 7 period schedule for high school?  Or a block schedule for high school?  Have you looked into a way that students could do choir or band without having to take zero period or summer school?

A. We have not formally considered a 7 period day, but have had informal conversations about it. This would also require additional funding that the district does not have for staffing and facilities. In addition, there are many factors to consider before adopting a change in schedule. For example, this would reduce the instructional minutes that students have with teachers. This may be manageable for some students, but certainly not for the majority. This would be a loss of thousands of instructional minutes over the course of a school year. Finally, there is research that encourages school district to reduce the number of students a teacher sees in a day, not increase the total student load (TSL) per teacher.

Q. Does the district have a list of all of the coaches at the secondary schools and whether or not they are in compliance with these following laws?

California Education Code (Cal. Educ. Code Section 35179.1 (c)(6), known as the 1998 California High School Coaching Education and Training Program) It requires coaches be certified in CPR and first aid and have a basic understanding of the signs and symptoms of concussions and the appropriate response to concussions. The California law is found at sections 38131(6) and 49475 of the Education Code. (Cal. Educ. Code §35179.1(c)(6), § 38131(6)), and §49475.)

NFHS Course: https://nfhslearn.com/courses/26/first-aid-health-and-safety Courses offered through CIF: https://www.cifstate.org/coaches-admin/coaching_education/certification

Are the Temporary or Part Time Coaches in compliance with California Code of Regulations, Title 5 (5 CCR) sections 5593 and 5594: Temporary Coaching Certifications?


A. All coaches need to be up to date with CPR and First Aid. This is regulated and monitored through the Office of Human Resources. Likewise our coaches take concussion training when they are hired through the National Federation of State High Schools Associations: https://nfhslearn.com/courses/61151/concussion-in-sports

The school sites also do trainings and concussion baseline testing in conjunction with the athletic trainers.

Q. I absolutely agree that teachers need a cost-of-living raise. What will the other money from the parcel tax be spent on?

A. Attract and retain employees, maintain low class sizes, maintain and expand career and college courses, art, music, science, and innovative programs, and maintain and increase safety and wellness support. Here is the link to more information https://www.burbankusd.org/Page/2399

Q. I thought that the vision statement was going to be a set of measurable goals, and programs to meet those goals, which would explain how the Parcel tax would be spent for the next 12 years. This is not what the vision statement turned out to be. When will the school board and the district staff put together measurable goals that they want to meet during the next 12 years if the Parcel Tax passes?

A>. During the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) process, we will review data and set three-year measurable goals.

Q. In Ed100 Lesson 3.1, it states, “The declining interest in education as a profession is more acute in California than in other states like New York.”  What efforts is BUSD making to share with students the benefits of going into education as a profession?

A. As a district, we look for any opportunity to show our respect and support for the teaching profession. However, the problem is bigger in California since the state does not invest in public education in the same manner as New York and most other states.

Q. In order for high school teachers to be qualified to teach dual enrollment classes, they have to have a single subject masters in the area that they are teaching (rather than a Masters in Education). As the district hires high school teachers, are they focusing on applicants who have this type of qualification?

A. There are two avenues, which the district is pursuing, in terms of offering dual enrollment. The first, which does not require a Master degree, is articulation. If the district has an articulation agreement with the local community college for a high school course, they can receive credit for the course upon enrollment at the community college. The second avenue is offering college courses on campus, which we have begun to do. This does require the teacher to have a Master degree in the content area. When we hire for any open position, we select the best possible candidate available. If they happen to have a Master degree, that makes them a more competitive candidate.

Q. Why did the district decide not to do the annual School Climate Survey?

A. We are in the process of revamping the School Climate Survey. The committee will begin meeting in October. The launch date for the survey will be in February.

Q. What is happening with the GATE? There was no orientation at the beginning of the year. There’s no GATE coordinator. There is no calendar. Minutes are no longer being posted.  Mrs. Cuseo and Mrs. Almer wanted to change the master plan so that the meetings would be business meeting/parent education meeting/business meeting/parent education meeting. The master plan was amended and they aren’t following the amendments that they asked for. There’s no information about any upcoming meetings. We don’t know what’s going on.

A. We have had two GATE parent advisory meetings so far this year. All GATE parents were also sent a survey to prioritize GATE activities in light of limited funds. The position of GATE Coordinator was frozen and will not be filled this school-year. At the next GATE parent advisory meeting the plan for the year will be shared with parents. The meeting will be held on October 21, 2019.

Q. Our question for the district is how are flipped lunches being monitored. The schools who do this, have they looked into how this affecting the students physically and physiologically? Are students having behavior moments, getting hurt, or needing to go the nurse with a headache or tummy ache that could all be due to, simply being hungry?

From the link found on BUSD website under the nutrition wellness program (are there others?)


Page 4: Other School-Based Activities Designed to Promote Student Wellness: Students shall have a clean, safe dining environment. Students shall be provided adequate space in pleasant surroundings, as well as have adequate time to eat, relax, and socialize. Students shall have clean, safe drinking fountains, so that they can get water at meals and throughout the day.

Our concern is if this is the most up to date policy then the flipped lunch, sit-with-your-classmates-schedule is not allowing the students “adequate time to eat, relax, and socialize.”

This is how Bret Harte Elementary handles flipped lunches:

1st and 2nd grade classes go outside at the same time.  

The 1st graders eat for 20 min then required to go play. 

While 1st graders are eating the 2nd graders are playing.

This 20 min of eating time includes them going to the cafeteria, then finding their classroom to sit with. Students are not allowed to eat with their friends, only their classmates.

Students are only allowed 20 min to eat. If it took 12 min for the student to get their food, find their classroom they now have 8 minutes to finish their food, if they are not done they are still required to go play. 

If any child is caught eating before their 20 min meal time, they are told to stop eating and go play, if they are too hungry to play and sit in a line for the cafeteria they are told to go play. Eating in the hallway is most common with 5th grade students due to hunger and their lunch starting at 12:53 pm.

This is especially tough for the 5th graders as they are the last flipped lunch. Their 20min start at 12:53 after playing for 20min.  

This is also tough for the students who play first and eat last. During this 20min they need to get their food, find their class, eat and find time to use the restroom before lining up to go back to class.   

A. This is not something that is monitored at the District level; it is a site decision. If you have concerns, please discuss with your principal.