HomeBlocksFront-TopBoard Names Paramo BUSD Superintendent

Board Names Paramo BUSD Superintendent

The Burbank Unified School District School Board named John Paramo its superintendent of schools Thursday, in an outpouring of support for Paramo’s merits in the role.

“Needless to say, tonight is a very big night for me. It is a dream come true,” said Paramo at the Thursday meeting.

Paramo first was named acting superintendent, then interim superintendent, after the district placed former Superintendent Matt Hill on leave in June.

He has served as an educator and district administrator in Burbank for more than 18 years and brings with him additional decades of experience as a teacher.

He holds a doctorate in education from the University of Southern California, a master’s in education from Azusa Pacific University, a master’s in English literature from California State University Los Angeles, and a bachelor’s in English from Whittier College.

“I love our community. I love our kids. I love our staff and teachers. I don’t want to be anywhere else. What I want is to use my skills, talents, my time, my heart, to provide learning experiences for kids that will positively impact their lives. Sign me up for that,” Paramo said during the meeting.

Paramo taught English at Don Bosco Technical Institute for 10 years but left private education to work for Baldwin Park Unified School District before finally taking his first role as assistant principal in Burbank, where he has worked for 18 years.

He was an assistant principal at John Burroughs High School and John Muir Middle School, prior to returning to Burroughs as principal in 2012. Just two years later, he took his first district job when he was named director of secondary education for BUSD in 2014.

It wasn’t long before he was named Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services in 2019, and he held that position for four years before Hill was placed on administrative leave.

The circumstances surrounding Hill’s leave were not explicitly disclosed by the Board, though he was removed from his position just after a closed-session meeting where it became clear he was involved in an $11 million budget error in June.

Paramo was made acting superintendent in his place, and has received a warm reception from the board, teachers and other district stakeholders in recent months.

“If one could have such a plan, it was always my hope that at some point in time, Dr. Paramo would one day become our superintendent,” said Board member Charlene Tabet during Thursday’s meeting.

“He has not only the background, the knowledge, but the right personality to lead a district,” she said.

Board member Pontzer Kamkar also endorsed Paramo, expressing excitement that he has been in Burbank for nearly two decades.

“The criticism of Dr. Hill was that he wasn’t from Burbank, and he hadn’t been in the classroom, and John checks those boxes,” Kamkar said.

“But despite a long history of service to students and to Burbank, this role brings additional scrutiny and an impossible set of standards,” she said. “Dr. Paramo’s reputation for being a conscientious and empathetic instructional leader is well deserved. He is proactive, he is thoughtful, he knows where he needs to improve and he takes the steps to do so,” said Kamkar, adding that teachers and principals across the district are excited to have Paramo as their leader.

Board member Emily Weisburg referenced Paramo’s demeanor earlier this year when the district was in turmoil after a series of sexual assaults shocked Burbank High School at a time when students were speaking up about the district’s handling of Title IX cases.

“When we dealt with some really difficult, heavy, conversations with students about things that had happened, the answer from John wasn’t ‘oh it was someone else’s fault.’ It was ‘what can we do to get better?’” said Weisburg.

“Whenever there’s an incident, Dr. Paramo runs directly toward it,”  she said.

Paramo’s contracted salary is set at $300,000 per year, about $40,000 higher than Hill’s final salary of $260,642.

During his statements Thursday, Paramo highlighted key issues he’d like to address as he takes on the new position. Specifically, he plans to address declining enrollment, capital projects and budget deficits.

Paramo expressed excitement about the potential for future opportunities to teach students financial literacy and ethnic studies, while giving high schoolers a leg up with college credits.

In an emotional closing statement, Paramo promised the board collaboration and commitment to students.

“Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your team,” Paramo said. “Everyone in our district has a role to play, and every role is critical. … I can promise you I’ll work hard, I have a heart for kids, and that will never change.”

First published in the September 9 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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