First published in the Sept. 3 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
The Burbank Unified School District is losing two administrators at the end of the month as Debbie Kukta and Oscar Macias recently announced that they will be stepping down from their positions.
Kukta announced that she will be stepping away from her role as assistant superintendent of administrative services during a school board meeting Aug. 18, saying she wanted to spend more time with her family.
“I’m really proud to culminate my experience with BUSD having served here,” she said. “There are some amazing people in this district. We do great things; the kiddos we put first. It is bittersweet to be leaving. I feel there’s a lot left to do.”
Board members and stakeholders expressed their gratitude to Kukta on Thursday in what was one of her final meetings as a BUSD employee.
“As the newest board member, starting on the school board is really difficult,” Emily Weisberg said. “There’s no kind of manual to help you get started, and you were endlessly — and continue to be — patient with me and sat through what I know were stupid questions and never made me feel stupid when I asked them.
“I’m just endlessly grateful to you for your generosity, your patience and your kindness,” she added.
Superintendent Matt Hill said his colleague has “given so much to this district and this community.”
Kukta is a well-known figure in Burbank, having attended Burbank schools, volunteered at various sites as a BUSD parent, served as a board member from 2005-2012 and worked with the city as a treasurer.
“Let’s be real: Ms. Kukta has changed this city forever, and for the good,” said board member Steve Ferguson.
Former school board member Roberta Reynolds visited City Hall chambers Thursday to voice her appreciation for Kukta, who encouraged Reynolds to volunteer and join the school board.
“You have given yourself at every level in this community … all while serving in volunteer organizations too numerous to mention,” Reynolds said. “At every step, you have operated with grace, compassion and dignity. You’ve been a role model for all parents, particularly those trying to navigate both the professional and volunteer world.”
Macias, Luther Burbank Middle School principal, informed families of his departure in a letter Wednesday, letting them know that he will be leaving BUSD “with mixed emotions” to work with the Glendale Unified School District as a director of equity, access and family engagement and becoming yet another principal to part ways with Burbank.
“I am sad to leave as I so loved my time here in Burbank Unified, especially my time at Luther Burbank Middle School,” Macias wrote in an email. “I am the most blessed educator.”
In his letter to parents, Macias acknowledged that the timing of his departure “is not ideal” and it was not an easy decision to leave.
“I have a great amount of trust and confidence that our district will find a highly qualified replacement to fill the role of principal,” Macias told families. “There is a plan in place for a transition that I intend to assist with.”
Macias began working with BUSD as an at-risk teacher at the Burbank Community Day School in 2000 and transitioned into a leadership role in 2007 as an assistant principal at John Burroughs High School. He became principal of Luther in 2015 and was also heavily involved with the district’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
“The community has left a mark on me that can never be erased,” he said. “I hope that I have a left a legacy of great service and leadership.”