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Glendale / Burbank Focus

BURBANK : Teacher Prep Time in Dispute at Burroughs

August 10, 1993|ED BOND

John Burroughs High School will begin the school year without a calendar for student days off, as the faculty and the Burbank school board wrestle with the question of how much time teachers need to prepare for class, the school principal said.

The high school's request for an unprecedented six staff development days was narrowly rejected by the school board in a 3-2 vote last week, forcing Burroughs Principal Tim Buchanan to go back to the faculty to work out a new plan.

"Parents feel that kids aren't learning unless they are in class," Board President Elena Hubbell said.

In rejecting the plan, Buchanan was told to bring back another proposal at the next board meeting Aug. 19. But Buchanan said he will have to meet with faculty members to get their input and approval for any changes, and that cannot happen until September.

"I'm going to have to make a proposal to the faculty to trim it back," Buchanan said.

Board members Denise Lioy Wilcox and Robert Dunivant had supported the plan.

Buchanan said the extra time was needed because the high school is clustering all ninth and 10th graders into groups of 30 that stay together four hours a day and get specialized attention from their teachers. The project is an expansion of a pilot program from this past school year.

The clustered students are absent an average of four fewer days each year, are late less often and have fewer suspensions or referrals to counselors, according to school statistics. But teachers have to spend more time preparing for class and coordinating with each other to give the students individual attention.

"We are embarked here in a major change, and we are struggling to find some quality time to do that," Buchanan said.

"I think there are better ways to do it," Hubbell said of the plan for pupil-free days and more staff development. She said she would feel better if the time was used before the school year begins or during a vacation.

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