First published in the Dec. 18, 2021, print issue of the Burbank Leader.
The Burbank Unified School District held its annual reorganization of the Board of Education in the final meeting of the year Thursday and named Charlene Tabet as president for the new year.
“It is an honor and a privilege to sit in this seat, to run these meetings [and] to work with my colleagues,” said Tabet, who has served as president once before. “To hear your thoughts and ideas about experiences everyone is having in the district and how we as a district can grow and work together to become … the best school district in the state of California.
“I think we are an extraordinary school district, but like I think with everything, no matter how good or how not good you may do something, there’s always room to grow and for improvement,” she added.
Steve Ferguson will serve as vice president, and Emily Weisberg, who was elected in November 2020, will serve as clerk.
Despite a recent increase of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations due to the holiday season and the Omicron variant, Tabet said she hopes that the district has worked through the worst of the pandemic but she is confident the district will power through whatever obstacles lie ahead.
“We’ve done it already, and so then our focus can really get to our district looking at not to manage a crisis but move forward and how to get our thoughts and processes back to doing what we do best, which is educating kids,” she said.
Tabet succeeds Steve Frintner, who took over as president of the school board last year amid a coronavirus surge that spread thin hospitals throughout Los Angeles County. As the vaccine rolled out earlier this year, government officials eased restrictions that allowed students to return to campuses for in-person learning, which was no easy feat.
“The challenges faced during this last year and … we continue to face have been monumental,” Frintner said. “After cutbacks we had made preceding years, everyone is handling a greater load than they had previously and [they have] done a fantastic job.
“It has been my honor and privilege to serve as the Board of Education president. This position really has no additional powers associated with it compared to any of the board positions, but there are a few other responsibilities and I’ve tried to fulfill them to the best of my ability. You do occasionally have to represent the board and/or district, and I’ve tried to always do so with dignity.”
Frintner’s colleagues also reflected on the year and thanked the former president for his dedication and leadership. Ferguson, an openly gay man, was especially thankful for Frintner’s allyship, particularly to the LGBTQ community.
“Thanks for looking out for students and faculty and the staff, who for a very long time have wanted to be seen as equals and treated as such,” Ferguson said. “I think you being who you are in the world and being such a powerful advocate for that community has made kids safer. And when they hear you roar on their behalf, I know it meant worlds for people to see that, especially from the president of the Board of Education.”
Frintner concluded his remarks as outgoing president urging families to follow public health protocols during the winter break and asking BUSD stakeholders to remain civil in issues that not everyone may agree on.
“There have been numerous examples in other districts, in the state, around the country, of school board meetings devolving to shouting matches or free-for-alls when discussions on things such as mask mandates, vaccines, [Diversity, Equity and Inclusion] initiatives and more have taken place. While I am proud of — both as a board member and a community — we’ve not dropped to that level, I hope we can continue that way going forward as we face more challenges.”