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Q&A: Programming Burbank Unified 2.0

September 13, 2011|By Megan O'Neil, megan.oneil@latimes.com

When Burbank Unified’s network supervisor announced his departure earlier this year, school board members decided to take the position in a new direction. They re-penned the job description to include a significant instructional component, and hired 31-year-old Charles Poovakan, well known in tech education circles for pushing the envelope.

Poovakan, the new director of information technology and educational support services, said that his love of computers started at the age of 5, when his parents brought home an 8-megahertz word processor.

He went on to earn a degree in computer science at Cal Poly Pomona, and then launched into a career that has taken him through the Fullerton Joint Union High School, El Monte City, Beverly Hills and Ocean View school districts.

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Now embarking on his first school year in Burbank, Poovakan is looking to transform the district into a model in technology efficiency. He recently sat down with the Burbank Leader to share his ideas.

Question: Your professional skills are highly valuable, why do you choose to employ them within the education field?

Answer: When I was in high school, we had computer programming classes, but that is all they had. They didn’t really have much for someone like me back then, and I really kind of felt like it just wasn’t good enough. When I went to computer programming classes, I easily got the As… and I wished there was really more. And when I came out of [school] I knew I wanted to somehow help people, but at the same time I was into computers. There are very few places you can do that. One of them is school districts... I am not cut out to be a teacher. It’s just not me. So the next closest thing would be to work behind the scene in technology.

Q: Where is Burbank Unified falling short on the technology front?

A: It is just mainly antiquated. I think part of the problem with a school district like Burbank, or even La Cañada, is that, as weird as it sounds, the lesser privileged schools get more resources. The more kids you have on free and reduced lunch, the more funding you get. And for districts like Burbank and La Cañada… It is harder to get funding, you have to kind of be a little more creative. I think that is part of the reason why you might see some of the school districts like El Monte or Ocean View, they have a lot of nice equipment because they are eligible for that funding.

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