BUSD Spared From Big Budget Cuts for Now

School districts across California scored a big victory on Monday when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced an agreement with the Legislature on a 2020-21 state budget that will avoid the drastic cuts in school funding that initially were proposed in May, allowing the Burbank Unified School District Board of Education to sigh with relief Thursday as it adopted a budget for the next fiscal year.
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BUSD Evaluating Hybrid, Distance Learning Models for Fall

The COVID-19 pandemic has made planning ahead difficult in every industry, but instruction in the 2020-21 school year is starting to come into focus.
Burbank Unified School District Superintendent Matt Hill responded to public comments during Thursday’s virtual board meeting with a clearer vision of how students will be attending class in the fall.
Students will be given the option of continuing distance learning or a hybrid option that would include in-person instruction. However, details are still being discussed by the reopening committee, which is expected to present a framework in July.
The constant health updates and mandates by Los Angeles County and the state have made the process a difficult one, according to Hill, who was recently on a conference call with a L.A. County Department of Health official. The superintendent said county officials collected data from the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and the State Department to come up with health orders.
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City Hall Reopening Nears, More Summer Music Shows Dropped

With Los Angeles County in Phase 3 of California’s Pandemic Resilience Roadmap, the La Cañada Flintridge staff notified City Council members of its plans of reopening City Hall to the public during a virtual meeting on Tuesday.
Staff is currently acquiring supplies and apparatus in an effort to follow the county’s public safety guidelines, according to City Manager Mark Alexander. He is hopeful to open City Hall with limited hours on Monday, July 20, a date that is subject to change because of the unpredictability of COVID-19.
Council members expressed a hope of hosting in-person public hearings but they were shot down by Alexander, who said the county’s restrictions on large assemblies remain unchanged.
The same goes for Music in the Park, which is now canceled through July 19. Alexander, who had scratched all shows in June, told the council that the first three concerts in July have been nixed.
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Supervisor Barger Addresses Chamber of Commerce

The Burbank Chamber of Commerce hosted a virtual chat on Thursday with Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who addressed COVID-19, the economic fallout from the pandemic and protests.
Barger wanted to clarify statistics pertaining to the coronavirus and assure the chamber and public that the county is hard at work to help the local economy recover from businesses shutting down because of the Safer at Home directives.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger

“This pandemic has truly been devastating to the health and economy of the county, as you all know,” she said. “ … The county and its residents have done a great job in flattening the curve, and I know it’s been painful for many people. By all accounts we have kept the case numbers low, prevented our health-care system from being overwhelmed and are moving into the stages of recovery.”
There has been a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, increasing the total number to 68,875 and 2,813 deaths as of June 11.
However, Barger attributed the surge in cases to the fact that more people are getting tested and the spread rate has gone down.
“Prior to the civil unrest, the spread rate for every one person that was positive was less than one person that would come in contact and possibly get it,” said Barger, who also informed the chamber the positive rate has remained at 8%. “At the beginning of Safer at Home, for every one person who had COVID, it was spread to about five people. So we truly did slow it down.”
She did express concern for a possible increase in coronavirus cases with the recent protests.

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Budget, Schools’ Reopening Are on BUSD Leaders’ Minds

Though no public meetings were on the Burbank Unified School District’s agenda this week, Superintendent Matt Hill updated the community on the state of the budget and the reopening of school for the 2020-21 year — issues that have prompted keen interest among residents in recent weeks.
No agreement had been made between Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature as of Friday regarding the state budget, which is supposed to be ready by June 15. Suspension of operations because of health concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic gave lawmakers less time to negotiate.
The May budget revise from the governor proposed drastic cuts in school funding, a big concern for small districts such as Burbank’s. BUSD would have to cut more than $13 million, and Hill urges parents and guardians to continue writing to political leaders.
“We need to continue your advocating and email the governor and the legislature,” Hill wrote in his weekly update. “Without the support of the governor and legislature, BUSD will be forced to adopt the governor’s May revise.”
The BUSD staff will have a study session on Wednesday, June 17, and the Board of Education will convene the following day for a regular virtual meeting at 7 p.m.
Hill also notified parents that the Reopening Committee — which is separated into four subgroups and takes into consideration guidelines provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and California Department of Education — will work with the Burbank Teachers Association and California School Employees Association and is expected to share proposed instruction models on July 2. Continue reading “Budget, Schools’ Reopening Are on BUSD Leaders’ Minds”

LCUSD Deficit Narrows, but Official Issues Warning

With the 2019-20 school year having ended last week, the La Cañada Unified School District has shifted its focus to the future — most notably the upcoming budget and instruction in the fall.
Mark Evans, associate superintendent of business and administrative services, presented to the LCUSD Governing Board on Tuesday a first draft that included estimates for the current year and forecast a bleak future based on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s May revision of the state budget — a proposal of $203.3 billion that would significantly cut school funding due to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There’s great work being done in La Cañada and we want to keep that going,” Evans said during a virtual meeting. “The May revise is going to make that a challenge. Our budget is facing some uphill battles.”
The deficit for this year came in at $827,071, far better than anticipated in March, when Evans estimated it at $2.4 million.
“This puts us in a good state as we head into this economic situation,” he said. “It will help us weather that storm.”
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City OKs New Ordinance on Accessory Dwelling Units

The La Cañada Flintridge City Council on Tuesday unanimously adopted a new ordinance regarding accessory dwelling units based on the recommendation of the Planning Commission’s staff.
The ordinance, which had a first reading before the council on May 19, “would streamline the permitting of ADUs and junior accessory dwelling units in accordance with recent state legislation,” Director of Community Development Susan Koleda told the council before it voted. The new policy also will allow ADUs up to 800 square feet and 16 feet high, with setbacks that would be a minimum of 4 feet in the side and rear yards. It also permits ADUs and JDUs on every family lot and limits off-street parking requirements consistent with state law.
“This is an improvement over the last ordinance,” Koleda said, “including how we measure 16-foot height, with clarifications to other sections of the ordinance, which is far more easily understandable to the public and developers trying to construct ADUs.”
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Morikawa Eager to Get Pro Sports Back on Course

Photo courtesy PGA Tour
Golf professional Collin Morikawa, who graduated from La Cañada High School in 2015, plans on competing in the PGA Tour’s first tournament since March, which is scheduled for June 11.

With most of the country following stay-at-home ordinances for more than two months, people are looking for some semblance of normalcy and professional golfer Collin Morikawa is ready to deliver it.
The PGA Tour is scheduled to restart its season with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, on June 11, and the La Cañada High School graduate will be one of more than 120 golfers to compete in the tournament.
“I’ll be there at Colonial [Country Club],” said Morikawa, who was a member of the LCHS class of 2015. “We have the opportunity to be one of the first [athletes] back.”
Professional golfers were assured that PGA Tour officials would adhere to strict health guidelines such as having no fans present and providing extra space for athletes and caddies when they travel.
“Things to keep in mind as we go through all of this is it’s really a layered approach that we’ve taken, and the heart of it is social distancing,” Tour Senior Vice President and Chief of Operations Tyler Dennis recently told reporters in a conference call. “ … We’re excited about how the PGA Tour can play a role here in the world’s return, if you will, enjoying things we love and doing so in a responsible manner.”
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HEROES Act Could Benefit LCF, City Council is Told By Schiff

The La Cañada Flintridge City Council convened for a regular meeting on Tuesday and had a special guest to discuss local and national issues, most notably the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) joined the council to elucidate the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, a new relief package passed by the House of Representatives last Friday but is currently stagnant in the Senate.
The $3 trillion HEROES Act would provide Americans with a second stimulus check as well as provide financial relief to businesses, and state and local governments affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I have to think members of both parties recognize the difficulty their constituents are facing right now,” Schiff told councilmembers. “That would be really a disservice to our common constituents if we were to let cities go bankrupt or have to lay off their teachers or first responders. We have funding for the school districts also to help with those issues.”
The package would provide hazard pay for personnel on the front lines during the pandemic, such as hospital workers, bus drivers and grocery store employees. Schiff also noted that it would support homeowners, homeless and food benefits.
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