HomeCity Government NewsWeisberg Succeeds Ferguson as School Board President

Weisberg Succeeds Ferguson as School Board President

The Burbank Unified School District Board of Education Thursday appointed former Vice President Emily Weisberg to succeed Steve Ferguson as the Board’s new president, also elevating Armand Aghakhanian to vice president.

Weisberg emphasized togetherness as she addressed the issues the district would be taking on over the next year.

“With very few exceptions, the role of the board president is no more or less powerful than anybody else on the dais. … we operate together,” said Weisberg, in her first address as president. “I look forward to all of the amazing things that we are going to achieve together in collaboration with the city and with one another,” said Weisberg.

Weisberg is a decadelong Burbank resident who has worked in education for more than 20 years. She is a teacher at the Sierra Canyon School in Chatsworth and has held positions in curriculum development and has directed teen programs. She was elected to the Board in 2020 and served as vice president in this year.

Aghakhanian is the director of the East Los Angeles College Foundation, a nonprofit. He was first elected to the Board in April 2015, and served as the Board’s vice president that year and later served as president.

On a day when the Board said goodbye to retiring Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services Sharon Cuseo, much of the meeting was also dedicated to giving thanks to Ferguson, who was at the helm during what Mayor Nick Schultz called a tumultuous year in Burbank Unified.

“It is the greatest honor of a lifetime to come out of that school system as a student and then to later sit as Board president,” said Ferguson. “Together, we made some incredible progress in modernizing an institution that’s been around for over 100 years.”

In contrast to last year’s reorganization meeting, which saw much political debate and delays by then President Charlene Tabet, this year, the Board put up a unified front, swiftly and unanimously making the appointments without discussion.

The roles of president and vice president of the Board are traditionally seen as ceremonial, with members shuffling positions yearly, each getting a chance at leadership.

Still, many at Thursday’s meeting pointed out the unspoken responsibility of the Board president, to act as the face of the district during hard times. This year, the district faced unprecedented controversy: a string of sexual assault allegations at Burbank High School, an $11 million budget misallocation, and the ousting of former Superintendent Matt Hill.

“It’s safe to say that there‘s probably never been a more tumultuous year in Burbank Unified to be in that center seat and to lead a community through the hardship,” said Schultz, directing his comments at Ferguson Thursday. “It’s a hard role to fill, but you wear it well. You always push forward and ahead, and I know that you are not done yet.”

Vice Mayor Nikki Perez accompanied Schultz to the meeting in their first address to the Board since taking on the City Council pulpit Tuesday.

“Thank you all for everything that you do. It matters. It creates our children’s futures, and I look forward to serving alongside our next board president, whoever she may be,” said Perez.

The Board and district staff thanked Ferguson for his work as president.

“I can’t imagine us weathering that storm without you at the helm,” said Weisburg Thursday.

Superintendent John Paramo, who this year was elevated to district leadership amid the district’s budget troubles, thanked Ferguson for his mentorship.

“You have really spent a lot of time with me over the last six months. You’ve reached out, mentored and coached me and gave me a lot of context of things going on in the district,” said Paramo.

Similarly, Board Member Abby Pontzer Kamkar gave a nod to Ferguson. The two have clashed in the past but praised one another at Thursday’s meeting.

“No one works harder in the service of kids,” said Kamkar to Ferguson. “I want to thank you for doing that work in a year when it really needed to be done, and for being there for our community. … I know it was not easy.”

First published in the December 23 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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