First published in the Oct. 15 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
I urge you to vote Larry Applebaum and Brian Smith for Burbank School Board.
Having grandchildren who attend Burbank public schools I am deeply concerned about the leadership of the Burbank Unified School District under Superintendent Matt Hill and the board and I think you should be too.
Why have eight principals, an assistant superintendent and a director left the district within the last few months? This crippling attrition of school leadership is hurting our students during already challenging times.
The Board of Education through its Superintendent has expressly committed to recruit and retain highly qualified employees. They are doing the opposite. The superintendent has pointed to the pandemic and better opportunities elsewhere for the exodus, as if this was unavoidable. This is so far from the truth. Many of these former employees have deep community ties and would have stayed supporting our students in this community but for the toxic culture created by him and tacitly supported by the board.
Our board and the superintendent waste our precious resources on costly investigations, mostly to distract or score political points. Watch a board meeting and you will see the unproductive discord amongst the members. This dysfunction, combined with the superintendent autocratic “leadership” style, create a culture in which longtime employees are hemorrhaging from BUSD.
The school board’s job is to hire one person, the superintendent. If necessary, their job is also to fire the superintendent when he fails to inspire employees to stay invested in the welfare of our students.
As a retired person, I am concerned for our future citizens. Selfishly, I also want our schools to be the best they can be. Property values are directly tied to high-quality schools that attract families who will pay for the opportunity to live in Burbank.
Parents and neighbors, we must turn this around. I implore you to vote for change this November. I am supporting Larry Applebaum and Brian Smith for school board. They will demand better outcomes for our students and stop squandering our scarce resources.
Jef Vander Borght
Former Mayor, Burbank