By Kelly Corrigan, firstname.lastname@example.org
5:04 PM PST, December 11, 2012
The five Burbank residents running for two open seats on the Burbank Unified school board already agree on two main goals: maintaining academic performance and incorporating more technology into the classroom.
Here’s a look at the five candidates running for the Burbank board of education.
David Dobson, 50, has lived in Burbank for 12 years and is running for the first time for a seat on the board.
A freelance video editor and father of two children in Burbank schools, Dobson has been involved in the parent-teacher association for 12 years and is current PTA president at Disney Elementary. He’s also treasurer for the PTA at Jordan Middle School.
His reason for running falls is in his drive to serve, he said, and one of his main priorities is the implementation of technology in every Burbank classroom. He said the benefit of working on the PTA has enabled him to learn how to work with parents, teachers and booster clubs to bring positive change to schools.
“I feel like I’m talking to a lot of groups of people, a lot of whom tell me they’re not being heard from the board,” he said. “There’s a host of challenges, and I believe in those challenges there’s an opportunity to start to make schools of the future, instead of hang on to what we’ve done the past few years.”
Charlene Tabet, 48, taught middle school students in art, math and language arts in the Montebello Unified School District for 10 years.
A Burbank High graduate, Tabet is recently retired and now manages rental properties.
Tabet’s three children have attended Burbank schools and, for a combined 17 years, she has been involved in the PTA, working her way up to president of the group at Thomas Jefferson elementary and John Muir middle schools.
“I love Burbank and that’s part of the reason why I’m running,” she said. “Burbank is my heart and soul and I’m an educator. This is my way of giving back to make sure Burbank stays as wonderful as it is.”
Larry Applebaum, 53, is a Burbank native and current president of the school board.
As a contractor working in residential remodeling, he has sat on the school board since 2005, when he was more concerned with bringing arts and music back to elementary schools. The argument for arts was the same one he presented in 2003 when he first ran for a seat on the board and lost.
But now with eight years as a school board member behind him, Applebaum’s new focus is bringing more technology and a dual-language immersion program to the district.
“I may not have fully accomplished my goal, but I have accomplished it to a high degree. I believe that’s already on the train track,” he said of the arts programs that have been implemented. “There’s critical mass and force behind that. I don’t see that with technology and I don’t see that with language.”
Armond Aghakhanian, 41, has lived in Burbank for six years.
As an adjunct professor for Woodbury University, Aghakhanian has taught business classes and courses on leadership, social responsibility and government.
He has also taught Burbank High School’s Finance Club.
Before he worked as an academic, Aghakhanian spent several years working for the California State Assembly, at one point under Assemblyman Dario Frommer, a Democrat and former a majority leader.
In his campaign to run for a seat on the school board, Aghakhanian said his main priority is to sustain Burbank schools.
“I am running for the school board to guarantee that all of Burbank’s children have access to the best public education,” he said in an email, adding that he will push for small class sizes and for more individualized learning.
He is the father of a 1-year-old son and also supports more technology in the classroom and exploring alternative materials and energy sources for students to use to keep them environmentally friendly.
Steve Ferguson, 23, is a Burbank native and owner of a consulting firm who works on political and media campaigns.
Ferguson has been involved on city boards and commissions since age 11, when he became a member of Burbank Youth for Youth and later worked on the Mayor’s Youth Task force and sat on the board of the Burbank Park, Recreation and Community Services.
Ferguson recently ran for a seat on the school board in August when school board member Debbie Kukta left her seat to take a post as Burbank city treasurer. When the school board’s final vote came to a tie between Ferguson and Burbank Police Lt. John Dilibert, school board President Larry Applebaum broke the tie by giving his vote to Dilibert.
In his continued effort for a seat on the board, Ferguson is focusing on local leadership.
“I’m running, ultimately, to preserve the Burbank standard of education in our schools,” he said. “I believe the federal level and state level of government continue to fail us. I believe it’s up to us on the local level.”
Locally, though, Ferguson sees challenges in a politically divided Burbank.
“Politically, we are community that has become very divided. More than anything, I want to be a leader for the entire community and not just half of it.”
Follow Kelly on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.