Burbank Unified School District Advances Rapidly on Proposed Property Tax Increase; Residents Urged to Weigh In

The Burbank Unified School District recently disclosed plans for a new bond measure that will mean a property tax increase on every Burbank property, if passed. This measure would appear on the March 2024 ballot, once the District moves forward.

Crucial School Board Meeting Ahead

The school board has scheduled a meeting to further discuss this bond measure and tax increase. This meeting is set for Thursday, September 21, 2023, at 7 pm at City Hall and is listed under agenda item 11.c.

Click Here for School Board Meeting Details

Detailed Timeline Available

For those interested in the specifics and timeline of this proposed bond measure and tax increase, the school district has released a detailed document.

Proposed Bond Measure Timeline

Controversy Related to Overspending

Opponents of the bond measure and property tax increase argue that the District spends way too much money on needless things. The District had 61 employees in 2022 in therapy, counseling, and psychologist roles which amounted to $6,401,853.53 in total compensation before taxes and retirement benefits.

There were 1,580 employees in Burbank Unified School District in 2022 who do not teach. That is more than half of all persons employed.

The contract for the last superintendent, Dr. Matt Hill, paid out a full year’s salary when he was terminated due to a provision in his contract. Dr. Hill earned more than the California Governor and was not a resident.

Most of the top administration staff at the Burbank Unified School District are not Burbank residents and would not face the consequences of the tax increase. Property tax increases mean an increase, incrementally, in rent, the cost of housing and living, the prices at the cash register…everything goes up because real estate taxes percolate into every aspect of the economy.

A local resident points out that interdistrict (nonresident) students’ families do not pay property taxes here and would benefit from the tax hike but would not contribute to it. The District has aggressively added non-resident students to the rolls here.

Interdistrict permits allow students to attend schools outside of their home district. To qualify for this permit in the Burbank Unified School District, applicants must submit a paper application along with documents like employment verification in Burbank or proof of business ownership, school records, a current utility bill, and parental photo ID. These permits are considered a privilege and can be revoked for reasons like poor attendance, grades, or misconduct. Non-resident students arguably receive a greater benefit from the bond and tax increase because, as non-residents, their families do not bear the burden of the tax increase from the passing of a bond measure.

Opponents of the Bond Measure and Tax Increase Argue Burbank Unified School District Has Too Many Administrative Employees

In 2022, the governor of California earned $224,020 while Burbank Unified School District’s top brass included four employees whose total compensation exceeds that of the governor of the state.

This pay information can be found on the Transparent California website, a nonprofit organization that collects public pay data and makes it available online. Click here.

According to this data, here are the counts:

Teachers: 1,050

Non-Teachers: 1,580

Andrew Cantwell, assistant superintendent for the district, contends that the number of teaching staff is higher. We have sent him a list of staff titles for review and will edit or amplify this story as appropriate.

Opponents of the tax increase argue that the District needs to trim off the non-teaching payroll, reduce the number of high-paid consultants and attorneys, and find ways to generate money by using the tremendous amount of land the District controls.

“We tried to rent a facility off school hours and we were not met with a warm welcome,” states an arts and antiques tradeshow organizer who claims to have gone around in circles until finally giving up. “It is clear that they did not want us to use the facility for the project,” she added.

Contact for Queries

For questions or concerns regarding this proposed bond measure, Assistant Superintendent Andrew Cantwell is the designated point of contact on the District’s documents. However, for formal comments to be officially recognized, they need to be directed to the school board.

Contact Assistant Superintendent Andrew Cantwell andrewcantwell@burbankusd.org

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