Drive-Thru Resource Event for Students Returns in August

Photo courtesy Burbank Housing Corp.
Volunteers at last year’s Back to School event for Burbank students from low-income families hold signs for participants. About 34% of Burbank Unified School District students are socioeconomically disadvantaged, according to the superintendent.

Though many students finished the school year just weeks ago, local nonprofits are already preparing for their annual Back to School event.

Traditionally, the August event has taken the form of a resource fair representing several charitable organizations providing information and services to Burbank students in low-income families. In a normal year, the Kids Community Dental Clinic might offer screenings, while the Burbank Noon Lions Club could offer vision examinations.

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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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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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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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School Board Meets Today Over BUSD’s 2021-22 Goals

The Burbank Unified School District will have a virtual special meeting today to discuss with the Board of Education the districtwide goals for the 2021-22 school year.
Superintendent Matt Hill will present a draft of the objectives and then receive guidance from board members about any revisions or additions to the list.
The discussion will center on BUSD’s four main goals: providing students with high-quality instruction to prepare them for college and careers; keeping them healthy physically, emotionally and mentally; recruiting and retaining highly qualified employees; and maintaining efficient and effective operations.
To achieve its No. 1 goal of a high-quality education, the district staff hopes to “continue promoting a culture of academic success and implement proactive interventions” to decrease the number of low grades, such as Ds and Fs, by 3% at all grade levels.
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Former Burbank Teacher Sentenced in Child Porn Case

City News Service

A former elementary school teacher who taught in Burbank and Hollywood was sentenced Thursday to 30 years behind bars for making pornographic images and videos of two of his ex-students.
Sean D. Sigler, 56, of Burbank, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt, who described Sigler’s conduct as “inexcusable,” adding that “ruining the lives of minors is unspeakable.”
Sigler, who pleaded guilty in September 2019 to two counts of production of child pornography, previously taught 5th grade at Bret Harte Elementary School in Burbank and Gardner Street Elementary School in Hollywood.
The Burbank Leader, then owned by the Los Angeles Times, reported in 2019 that Sigler was one victim’s 5th-grade teacher at Gardner. He kept in contact with her after she left his classroom, using his position as former teacher and mentor to gain her and her parent’s trust, the U.S. attorney’s office for the Central District of California said, adding that Sigler then exploited that trust to gain sexual access to the girl.
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BUSD High Schools Ranked Among Top 500 in State

Matt Hill
BUSD Superintendent

The U.S. News and World Report published its annual best high schools rankings on Tuesday and the Burbank Unified School District made the grade with both of its high schools among the top 500 in the state.
Out of 2,598 qualifying California high schools rated by the publication, John Burroughs High ranked No. 320 with a scorecard of 87.69. Burbank High was No. 417 with a score of 84.9.
“Our students, our teachers and our employees are doing amazing work in each of our schools,” BUSD Superintendent Matt Hill told the Leader on Thursday. “It is great to get that recognition, but we don’t focus on the awards. We focus on delivering amazing instruction, and awards come from that.”
Burroughs, which was ranked No. 142 out of 659 qualifying schools in Los Angeles, boasts a high graduation rate of 97% and the students’ performances on state-required exams are well above the state average. Sixty-seven percent of students were proficient in reading but only 44% showed competency in math. The state average for proficiency in math is 30% and 50% in reading.
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BUSD to Host DEI Discussion

The Burbank Unified School District will host a panel discussion to inform the community about its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiative on Tuesday, May 4, at 7 p.m.
In an effort to be more transparent with stakeholders, members of the DEI Committee will gather virtually to share their thoughts, the work the district has done so far and what DEI means for students, staff and families.
“We have a diverse group of students, parents and employees working on DEI over this past year, so we want to set up a panel so people can share their experiences and perspectives on DEI,” said Superintendent Matt Hill.
Board of Education members Armond Aghakhanian, who helped launch the committee in 2019, and Emily Weisberg will be part of the event, as well as state teacher of the year finalist Ericca Dent, Luther Middle School Principal Oscar Macias, school intervention specialist Juan Avila, Burbank High School student Emily Hasunuma, Walt Disney Elementary technology specialist Rosemary Morrison and BUSD parent Africa Turner.
“The main focus is to start to create these spaces and conversations throughout the district,” Hill said. “This panel will give everyone a different perspective.”
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