Antioch School Board Adopts Annual Budget That Digs Into Reserves, Approves LCAP
By John Crowder
At their June 25th meeting the Antioch School Board adopted a budget with about $6.5 million in deficit spending for the 2014-2015 school year and also approved a Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) that had been the subject of considerable discussion by local community groups at previous board meetings.
Prior to board approval Tim Forrester, Associate Superintendent-Business and Operations and Mia Cancio, Director, Fiscal Services, provided the board with a power point presentation regarding details of the budget. According to Forrester, the deficit spending in the budget was continuing, “for a very good reason…there are programs we wanted to support.” He emphasized that the amount of deficit spending in the current budget was less than that of the previous year, and that it would continue to decline, reaching slightly over $10,000 in the 2016-2017 fiscal year.
Forrester also noted several challenges involved with putting the budget together, including the fact that student enrollment in the district was continuing to decline, the unpredictability of special education costs, potential increases in CalPERS and CalSTRS contributions and uncertainty concerning the impact of costs associated with the Affordable Care Act.
Following Forrester’s presentation, Cancio discussed the new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) which, along with the LCAP, had been the focus of so much recent concern in the community. Several community groups had been requesting that the Supplemental and Concentration Funds, generated by the number of high-needs students in the district, be used solely to increase services for these students, and not for the population as a whole. In explaining the rationale for district spending, Cancio quoted from a portion of the education code.
“(A school district) may demonstrate it has increased or improved services for (high-needs students) by using funds to upgrade the entire educational program of…a school district…(when it has) an enrollment (of high-needs students) in excess of 55% of the district’s total enrollment,” she said.
The number of high-needs students in Antioch is over 67%. Cancio also presented a slide listing programs, including expenditures, that she said would benefit such students.
Board members, responding to community concerns, commented on the budget process, including the work involving the LCAP.
Board Member Barbara Cowan said that, although it was necessary to approve the LCAP because they were “on a deadline,” it was nonetheless a “living, breathing document.”
Board Member Claire Smith echoed her comments, noting, “the budget can always change.”
“The reality is, the process is going to continue,” Board Vice President Gary Hack added.
In other news, the board informed the community that Scott Bergerhouse had been appointed principal of Dozier-Libbey Medical High School (DLMHS), effective immediately. He replaces Nancie Castro, who had been the principal of the school since its inception eight years ago.
Two members of the public protested the change in DLMHS leadership during the meeting. Mimi Metu, a recent graduate who had also been the student representative from DLMHS to the board for the last year, told the board that it was wrong for Castro to be demoted. Edgar Osorio, past president of the DLMHS Parent-Student-Teacher Association (PTSA) told the board that the move, “sounds like retaliation to me.” DLMHS teachers have been engaged in a fierce struggle for control of the school since 23 of the school’s teachers, 88%, filed a petition to make it an independent charter school in February.
Cheryl Cooper, board president for RAAMP Charter School, noted that Monday would be the last day for that school to be in operation. She expressed concern that the district was back pedaling on their commitment to “ensure the emotional well-being of our students.”
Two other members of the public also spoke up about concerns regarding their children’s education. One spoke about trying to establish an IEP for her son for over a year, but being met with continuing delays, while the other stated that she had been assaulted by the mother of a teacher on the Lone Tree Elementary School campus, and that she had found it necessary to bring the police into the matter. In response to the latter comment, Board Member Diane Gibson-Gray asked that she leave her contact information with staff so that, it can be passed on to the next level.
The adjournment of the meeting brought to a conclusion board meetings for the current school year. The next scheduled board meeting, beginning the 2015-2016 school year, is scheduled for August 13. Meetings are held at the district office at 510 G Street, typically beginning at 7:00 p.m.