Students’ Stress Rose in 2020, Survey Finds

Burbank high schoolers and district employees felt more stress and anxiety in 2020 than in previous years, according to a survey presented during a Board of Education meeting last week.

John Paramo, Burbank Unified School District assistant superintendent of education services, unveiled the findings of a survey of 1,323 staff and students from Burbank and Burroughs high schools that was administered by Hanover Research between September and November. The number of participants was less than half compared to the previous year. 

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Local Gun-Related Crimes Increase as Pandemic Subsides

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
Burbank police responded to an incident in which a man was shot and killed in his apartment in late January. A significant rise in the number of recent gun-related crimes appears to be partly due to the easing of pandemic restrictions, a police spokesman said.

Burbank has experienced a striking increase in the number of gun-related crimes so far this year compared with the same period last year, according to local police.

There were three crimes involving a firearm from the beginning of 2020 through May 18 that year, Sgt. Emil Brimway of the Burbank Police Department told the Leader. In the same period this year, there were 15 such incidents. Nine of those were related to a robbery, attempted robbery or carjacking.

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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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City OKs Ordinance Raising Some Store Workers’ Pay

Following weeks of intense disagreement among City Council members, the group approved an ordinance increasing pay for Burbank grocery and drugstore workers on Tuesday.

The hazard pay ordinance, sometimes referred to as “hero pay,” directs affected stores to increase employees’ wages by $5 an hour starting June 18 and will last for 60 days unless terminated early or extended. It will affect workers of large businesses, defined as stores that have more than 10 employees and are either publicly traded or report having more than 300 employees nationwide.

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Utility Rate Hikes Receive Council’s Backing

Despite concerns from residents and its own members regarding the timing, the Burbank City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to move toward increasing utility rates.

The water rate is set to increase by 1.96% in October, as well as in January and April next year. The electricity rate will increase by 1.24% in October 2021 and April 2022, while the refuse rate will increase by 2% in July 2021.

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Local Businesses Receive Millions in State COVID-19 Grants

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
David and Theresa Hanna have owned local gift store Bell Cottage for nearly 14 years. The Magnolia Park business received a COVID-19 relief grant from the state in April — a much-needed boost during the pandemic.

A California program for small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic has given more than $5 million in grants to Burbank companies and contractors, recently released data shows.

More than 450 Burbank small businesses — including nonprofits, sole proprietorships and independent contractors — that grossed between $1,000 and $2.5 million in the 2019 tax year received grants from the state’s COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant program, which was announced in early December.

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Fire Department Names Firefighter of the Year

Capt. Erik Johnson

The Burbank Fire Department recognized Capt. Erik Johnson as its 2020 “firefighter of the year,” praising the longtime professional for his leadership during the coronavirus pandemic.
Johnson, who has been with the BFD for 21 years, is a shift paramedic coordinator who has worked to support the department’s emergency medical services program, according to a news release announcing the award. He also volunteered to assist with the BFD’s recruitment efforts for the 2020 and 2021 academies, working as the lead background investigator for recruits.
Johnson said he was honored by the recognition but didn’t think he was any different from his colleagues.
“I don’t really think I deserve it,” he said in an interview. “I’m surrounded by a group of amazing people in this department, and I think it’s hard to … pick one person who demonstrates the qualities that represent the firefighter of the year.”
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Applications for City Boards, Commissions Open

Applications are open for a total of 27 vacancies on city boards, commissions and committees, through which residents can advise and guide the municipal government on various topics.
The application period began on May 3 and will close on Wednesday, June 2, at 5 p.m. Applications are available online at and at the city clerk’s office in Burbank City Hall. The City Council is scheduled to appoint applicants to each of the bodies during its July 13 meeting.
Vacancies were announced for the Burbank Cultural Arts Commission, which has four vacancies; the Infrastructure Oversight Board, which has three; the Planning Board, which has three; the Police Commission, which has five; the Sustainable Burbank Commission, which has five; the Transportation Commission, which has four; and the Park, Recreation and Community Services Board, which has three.
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Library Returns to Full Hours Next Week

Photo courtesy Burbank Public Library
Though Burbank Public Library’s hours will expand starting Sunday, curbside pickup will likely continue, though possibly in a more limited form. The socially distanced practice, shown here with library assistant Jordan Caves-Callarman and a patron, was implemented in response to the pandemic.

After 14 months of service disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Burbank Public Library will be restoring full hours of service on Sunday.
Capacity will be limited to 80 patrons at the central and Buena Vista branches, and to 12 at the Northwest branch, whose hours of service will also be increased. The Northwest Library will now be open on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., which along with hours at the Buena Vista Library from 1-5 p.m. on Sundays gives the community a full day of service on Sundays.
Additionally, the Northwest Library will now be open on Tuesday nights until 8 p.m.
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