"This means kids will be in school another three days, and teachers will have a day to learn and hone their craft so they can be better teachers," Romo said. "We think it is a win-win for everyone involved."
The district, like others up and down the state, is facing serious funding shortfalls, the result of the economic recession and subsequent state budget crisis.
In the spring, the teachers union agreed to accept six furlough days during the 2010-11 school year, including three instruction days and three professional development days, in order to avoid layoffs for 66 teachers.
Two of the professional development furlough days were taken during the summer months, Romo said.
Restoring the four remaining days to the district calendar was made possible by a one-time infusion of money via the federal stimulus. Teachers unions and educational groups pushed hard for the total $1.2 billion in assistance, which was approved by Congress in August.
Burbank Unified is eligible for $2.87 million, said Burbank Unified Supt. Stan Carrizosa, and recently received from the Los Angeles County Office of Education an initial allotment of $2.5 million.
The federal money was intended to be used for rehiring laid-off teachers and to restoring furlough days, Romo said, adding that the union was glad that the district decided to use the money as intended.
"It is common knowledge that among all the industrialized nations, the United States has their children in school the least amount of time," Romo said. "So we think that keeping children in school and learning is important. That is something that all educators should agree upon."
Burbank Unified is working to preserve the quality of education in the district while managing an unstable budget, Carrizosa said. District enrollment remains steady, and attendance is strong at 96%.
Nevertheless, the climate in education remains challenging, he said.
"It is really in flux, and it is really difficult," Carrizosa said. "We are doing our best to manage the moment and make the best curriculum for our kids today, while keeping an eye on the future."