District and school administrators hope to alleviate some of the long waits in line at Burbank High, where enrollment has increased by about 50 students this year, by letting more of the student body have the option of getting their lunch from nearby eateries.
“It’s always been for 12th-graders, and with our growth it just makes sense to allow 11th-graders who qualify to leave as well, and it will help the congestion in lunch lines and the general congestion around campus, as well,” Burbank High School Principal Bruce Osgood said.
Students must have a 2.5 grade-point average or higher, an attendance record with fewer than five unexcused absences, no truancies and no history of discipline issues to be eligible for an off-campus pass.
Parents of students who want to go off campus for lunch also have to sign a statement giving their child permission to leave, Osgood said.
The form must be signed in person, he said. The school will be taking applications for the passes next week.
Taylor Morton, a junior at Burbank High School, said she will probably go off campus for her lunch sometimes, but not every day.
“It’s such a short time,” Taylor said. “And none of us drive yet.”
Most of the fast food in the area is close enough to drive to but too far to walk to and make it back on campus to eat, Taylor said.
“What happens is it’s really hard for kids to get off the campus and get their lunch and come back,” Supt. Gregory Bowman said.
“They can’t dawdle. They have to quickly get whatever they’re going to get and come back to campus.”
Students who don’t make it back to campus before the last lunch bell rings at 12:56 p.m. on a regular school day have their off-campus privilege suspended for a week, Osgood said. Students have 40 minutes for lunch.
Elizabeth Starkand, a junior at Burbank High School, said the race against time might be exacerbated by the increased amount of students at drive-through windows.
“Just because everything is so close,” Elizabeth said.
Students tend to favor nearby Subway, Carl’s Jr., Taco Bell and In-N-Out Burger for a quick bite, but with roughly 40 minutes for lunch they can never sit down in the restaurant, she said.
Whether the new access to off-campus foods will affect the bottom line of Burbank Unified’s Food Services Department is still unknown, said Ralph Peschek, director of Food Services.
“We’re going take a wait-and-see position on that, and we’re going to serve all the students who want to come and eat with us,” Peschek said.
Still, the escape from high school remains a sweet enticement for Taylor, even if she won’t be getting out that often, and said she was grateful for the opportunity.
“Just the fact that we can [leave],” Taylor said. “The fact that we don’t have to be in here all day is nice.”