New Hire Seen as Important to Schools’ DEI Effort

First published in the Oct. 9 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Though COVID-19 vaccines were at the center of discussion among stakeholders during the Board of Education meeting on Thursday, the Burbank Unified School District reminded the community that it remains hard at work in implementing its diversity, equity and inclusion initiative.
The district announced that one of many of its goals was achieved on Thursday with the hiring of Stefani McCoy, who will serve as the BUSD DEI consultant and coordinator. The board voted 5-0 in favor of the hiring, which board member Emily Weisberg called an “exciting step.”
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District Narrows Contact Tracing to Keep Kids in Class

First published in the Oct. 9 print issue of the Glendale News Press.

After starting out the school year quarantining entire classrooms after a potential COVID-19 exposure, the Glendale Unified School District has recently begun implementing new guidelines to keep more students in the classroom.
The policy change, approved by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, comes after about two months of the district requiring entire classrooms at a time to stay home for up to a 10-day quarantine period. Continue reading “District Narrows Contact Tracing to Keep Kids in Class”

BUSD Will ‘Follow Research, Data, Health Guidelines’

Matt Hill

Each year we welcome back students, families and employees to our schools, but this year is extra special. We continue to persevere through a challenging pandemic.
Most of us have been impacted by this pandemic in many ways. However, with the rise of vaccines and the appropriate health guidelines, we are now in a position to return students and employees full-time to campuses this fall. We are going to continue to follow research, data and health guidelines to protect our students and employees. We will also have an independent study option for families who feel it is not safe for their child to return at this time.
As we start the school year, we have the opportunity to build upon the innovations and learnings from this past year to improve upon the excellent teaching and learning that takes place in our schools each day.
For the 2021-22 school year, the Board of Education has adopted the following goals:

  1. Students will be career/college ready via high-quality instruction
  2. Students will be physically, emotionally and mentally healthy
  3. Recruit and retain highly qualified employees
  4. Maintain efficient and effective operations
    To help our students with their academic and social-emotional needs, we are also implementing additional supports:
    • Expanded academic interventions
    • Expanded mental health resources via our partnership with Burbank Family Service Agency
    • Expanded focus on social-emotional learning at each of our schools
    • A stronger commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) via professional development and supports.
    By continuing to work together, we will build a stronger BUSD. Here’s to a great year!

BUSD Bolsters Policy Against Racial Slurs in School Materials

After two readings and hours of discussion, the Board of Education approved on Thursday the revision to selected board policies that bans the N-word from any instructional materials that are mandated for all Burbank Unified School District students to read. 

The five-member board unanimously approved the new policy with an amendment that states supplemental material given by teachers that includes offensive language or racial slurs must be approved by Superintendent Matt Hill.

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School District Grapples With a Derogatory Word

A proposed revision to policy could change instruction and materials used by teachers in the Burbank Unified School District.

While no decision was made, board member engaged in a lengthy discussion on the revision. Sharon Cuseo, assistant superintendent of instructional services, presented to the Board of Education a first reading of a draft policy that would prohibit the N-word from being said or read aloud in any class. Any instructional material, such as novels or textbooks, that use the derogatory word would be accepted only if it fit specific criteria.

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GHS Senior Takes on School Board Role

Photo courtesy GUSD
Glendale High School senior Kayla Rodriguez was sworn in last week as the student representative on the Glendale Unified School District Board of Education.

The student body at the Glendale Unified School District can officially turn to high school senior Kayla Rodriguez when it wants questions or concerns directed to the Board of Education.
Rodriguez, Associated Student Body president at Glendale High School, was officially sworn in as the student representative on the school board last week. As she took the oath while maintaining a social distance from the board and wearing a face mask, she admitted to being caught up with nerves at that moment.

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BUSD Stands by Grading Policy Despite Backlash

The BUSD Board of Education, which includes (from left) Roberta Reynolds, Steve Frintner, Armond Aghakhanian, Charlene Tabet and Steve Ferguson, backed Superintendent Matt Hill and the Burbank Teacher’s Association’s decision to change this semester’s grading policy to Credit/No Credit after listening to disgruntled parents’ letters.

The Burbank Unified School District stood firm in its decision to go with a “Credit/No Credit” grading policy for the spring semester despite backlash and pleas from parents during the Board of Education meeting on Thursday.
Superintendent Matt Hill and the five board members responded to numerous letters from concerned — and angered — parents regarding the Burbank Teacher’s Association and district’s controversial decision. All local schools closed March 16 because the COVID-19 pandemic and students were given Chromebooks for distance learning.
“I completely understand the passion and advocacy for your children,” Hill addressed parents during the meeting. “The approach we took with our teachers was looking at all of the options and thinking of different scenarios for each option.
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School Board Considers New Ideas on Campus Safety

An updated security assess-ment presented recently to th suggested ways of funneling campus visitors into a single controlled entry point to mitigate potential threats to students and faculty.
The board did not make any decisions regarding the recommendations, but it will include its updated information in an overall facilities needs assessment. Hal Sibley, vice president of the consulting firm gkkworks, made the presentation to the board at its Sept. 25 meeting. Continue reading “School Board Considers New Ideas on Campus Safety”

School Board Candidate Thinks Long Term

Steven Sommers
Steven Sommers

Seeking to help usher San Marino Unified School District into “a new era,” educator and philanthropist Steven Sommers aims to join the district’s Board of Education by way of November’s election.
Sommers, a vice president and senior philanthropic specialist for Wells Fargo’s Private Bank, said a variety of issues motivated him to join the pool of candidates, including enhancing school safety, continuing educational excellence, improving financial sustainability and repairing what he views as the eroded trust between the district and its stakeholders. He and his wife have three — soon, four — children at Carver Elementary School.
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School Board Candidate Touts Education Experience

Jane Chon
Jane Chon

Jane Chon said she aims to make the best use of her background in education policy if she is elected to the San Marino Unified School District Board of Education in November. A resident of San Marino for a decade, Chon said having twin sons at San Marino High School, a daughter at Huntington Middle School and a preschooler at a private school has given her a wide-ranging perspective on education here and feels she can contribute better because of it.
“If you look at all of my children, you’ll see that they are all in different stages of their lives and they’re very different people,” she said in a recent phone interview. “There’s a very big range of experiences within our own schools, and I think that’s a very small example of what’s going on in our school district. Continue reading “School Board Candidate Touts Education Experience”