Burbank school officials approved a new independent-study program recently in hopes of attracting Burbank students that the district has lost to similar programs nearby that provide students flexibility in earning a high school diploma.

The district is looking to fill about 20 spots to start, perhaps students who are parents, athletes or actors working in the local entertainment industry, said Emilio Urioste, director of secondary education for Burbank Unified.

Others may be students who have been home-schooled through the eighth grade or those with medical concerns such as coping with anxiety that could make a traditional high school an uncomfortable place to enroll, he added.

“We need a program that allows our students these options because students today are seeking options,” Urioste said. “This would provide us that flexibility and really put our district in the position to keep those students that might look elsewhere.”

Burbank Unified Supt. Jan Britz said school officials want to get the word out quickly that the district is offering this new option.

“We do want to recruit those students back, and we’ll do an outreach to try to get them back, because we believe there’s a lot of value to the Burbank Unified school district diploma,” she told the school board last week.

The Burbank Unified Independent Learning Academy, approved unanimously by the school board last Thursday, will open in September in the 3700 block of Allan Avenue near the Burbank Adult School.

The new program will require that students complete a five-credit class every 20 days, either online or using textbooks. The students will work from home and be required to meet with an instructor at least one hour a week to review their academic deadlines.

In Burbank, Options For Youth charter school operates an independent program at two Burbank locations, and Urioste said other charter schools in Los Angeles have enrolled students who live in Burbank.

In the Glendale Unified school district, Verdugo Academy has offered students an independent learning program since 1991.

Burbank Unified officials said their program will initially be open to students who live within Burbank’s boundaries, but eventually they plan to open it up to students who live in other communities.

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Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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