HomeCommunity NewsSchool Board Elects Ferguson as President

School Board Elects Ferguson as President

First published in the Jan. 21 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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The Burbank Unified School District Board of Education appointed Steve Ferguson as its president in a tense 4-0 vote Thursday, with former Board President Charlene Tabet abstaining from the vote, citing past disagreements with Ferguson.
The panel also unanimously elected Emily Weisburg to fill the role of vice president in Ferguson’s place. Board Member Armond Aghakhanian was selected as board clerk.
“Thank you to my colleagues for nominating me for this leadership role. Leadership is important. … The path forward to working together more effectively is not going to be through one board member. It is going to be through a direct focus on building a consensus and identifying a pathway forward that everyone can support,” Ferguson said during the meeting.
Traditionally, tenured board members work their way through roles on the school board, and the vice president is most often nominated to take the position of president.
The vote was initially set to take place in December during the board’s reorganization meeting but was delayed after Tabet and newly sworn-in Board Member Abby Pontzer Kamkar withheld votes for Ferguson during the December meeting. The two clarified their reasoning on Thursday.
“I know there is a tradition of rotation. That said, as I understand it, the board leadership position is not a figurehead. There is a lot of work to do,” said Kamkar.
“I believe we all want the same things for this district, but I do think there is a need to work better together. Mr. Ferguson, I have seen you extend grace and respect toward people you vehemently disagree with. I would like to see that respect all the time. As a member of the public, I was not seeing that.”
Ferguson replied that there were times when he felt unsafe participating in forums and that he was not consistently included in conversations with district leadership.
“It is clear that the superintendent and I have had disagreements over the past year. What I know about this office is that this is not about me and that I fundamentally have a responsibility to this district and this community that I love with all of me. I believe the superintendent believes that too,”
Kamkar ultimately cast her vote for Ferguson in the final rally, after urging Ferguson to lay out his plan to encourage togetherness with the board, staff and Superintendent Matt Hill.
Tabet echoed Kamkar’s statements ahead of the vote before abstaining.
“Congratulations to the newly elected BUSD School Board President Steve Ferguson and Vice President Emily Weisburg. I look forward to working closely with both of them, as well as their colleagues, in the year ahead for the benefit of our students, teachers and families,” Vice Mayor Nick Schultz told the Leader.
Schultz was behind a motion that sought to bridge the divide between the school board and the City Council this summer. The move formed a joint committee consisting of the members of the two bodies who will meet on a more regular basis moving forward with the intention of discussing school safety and safe-driving initiatives, among other items of mutual interest.

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