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Looking to get on board

Challenger Gregory Bragg will take on incumbents Debbie Kukta and Larry Applebaum for a Burbank Unified schools seat.

January 03, 2009|By Zain Shauk

CITY HALL — Three candidates will compete in upcoming elections for two seats on the Burbank Unified School District Board of Education.

Incumbents Debbie Kukta and Larry Applebaum will face off with challenger Gregory Bragg, a parent of two students in the district, including an 8-year-old son who is deaf and autistic. Bragg also has a 1-year-old daughter whom he plans to eventually send to school in the district, which he credits for providing superior programs, particularly for students with special needs.

“A lot of people run for something because they’re unhappy with the way things are,” Bragg said. “I’m actually running because I think it’s a great organization, and I want to be a part of it.”

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No other candidates registered before the Dec. 3 deadline for the elections, which will begin with a primary election Feb. 24, during which any candidate earning more than 50% of the votes could be elected before the general election April 24, Deputy City Clerk Josephine Wilson said.

Applebaum and Kukta are each finishing their first four-year term on the board and hoping to continue working through a second term that would likely be riddled with historic challenges because of the state’s growing budget deficit and the departure of longtime Supt. Greg Bowman, they said.

Kukta, who volunteered as the chairwoman of the district’s budget committee from 2002 to 2005, headed a team that searched through budgets to find areas for cuts in 2003, eventually presenting a set of $3 million in cuts to the board that included some position reductions, she said.

“I’d like to use that expertise to help get the district through these hard times that are coming up,” Kukta said.

The district is preparing to cope with midyear cuts that could climb above current district projections of $4.5 million, during a time when it will also have to search for a replacement for Bowman, who is retiring in June.

While the challenges are likely to present tough decisions, they would not be a deterrent, said Applebaum, who, despite spearheading efforts to improve arts programs in elementary schools, admitted that they would have to be considered, along with all district expenses, when evaluating the budget for possible reductions.

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