Antioch School Board approves labor agreements, considers parcel tax
By John Crowder
Labor agreements negotiated by the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) with the Antioch Education Association (AEA) and California School Employees Association (CSEA) were both ratified at the May 28th meeting of the school board. The board also approved an adjustment to salary schedule and benefits for the Antioch Management Association (AMA).
According to documents submitted to the board by Keith Rogenski, Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources, the compensation for members of all three groups was increased by 5.21%. The total cost of the compensation increase for each group is listed as $2,442,195 with AEA, $1,029,960 with CSEA, and $384,245 with AMA. Together, the agreements raise the combined total compensation costs to AUSD by about $3.5 million.
Later in the meeting the Board revisited an item that had been discussed earlier this year during their January 22nd meeting. At that meeting, the idea of placing a parcel tax on the November ballot had been raised, and staff had been directed to gather further information. The board had not been willing, however, to authorize conducting a survey of Antioch citizens on the matter. Now the decision to move forward with a survey of voters appears to be gaining support.
During the discussion on the potential for placing a parcel tax on the ballot, all three board members who were present, President Joy Motts, Vice President Gary Hack, and Trustee Barbara Cowan, indicated they were in favor of moving forward with a survey.
However, before a motion was made supporting this step, both Superintendent Dr. Donald Gill and Hack voiced the opinion that it would be better to wait until the full board was present before taking any action on the matter. Board members Diane Gibson-Gray and Claire Smith were absent from the meeting.
Nonetheless, it was agreed that Associate Superintendent Tim Forrester could begin working to determine what questions the survey should ask in order to save time should the board decide to move forward with the survey in June.
According to Forrester, the purpose of the survey would be to determine whether or not there is public support for putting a parcel tax on the ballot in support of various programs that might be implemented or expanded by AUSD.
“School boards have no authority to tax anyone,” Forrester said. “A survey is a way for the board to gauge if the public would support the board in placing a parcel tax on the ballot for needed programs for students. A survey would ask, at what level, would the public consider supporting the district’s needs.”
Some of the programs mentioned during the meeting that might be supported by a parcel tax included technology, counselors, art and music classes, and after-school programs. The cost of conducting such a survey was estimated to be between $25,000 and $30,000.
Not everyone at the meeting was happy with the idea of a parcel tax. Prior to the board discussion, one Antioch resident, Julie Young, addressed the matter during public comments. Young urged against placing a parcel tax on the ballot, citing a long list of other taxes either already in place, such as Mello Roos, Measure B and Measure C, or proposed, such as Measure E (which passed on June 3rd), the landlord business license tax and the increase in the minimum business license tax.
She made an analogy between a family that must budget for a large expense and government.
“We are already taxed and if you want something else, you should budget and save to get it,” Young stated. “If you decide to put the parcel tax on the ballot for November, be prepared for a huge campaign against it.”
The next regularly scheduled Board meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 11th, at 7:00 p.m. The Board is expected to take up the question of whether or not to move forward with the survey to gauge the support for a parcel tax at that time. Meetings are held at the AUSD School District Office located at 510 G Street.