Archive for October, 2017

Writers concerned about $75,000 of school funds spent to improve AUSD public image

Monday, October 30th, 2017

Editor:

Following is a letter sent to Antioch Unified School District Superintendent Stephanie Anello last week:

Dear Superintendent Anello,

We respectfully disagree with your proposal of spending $75,000.00 school funds, as well as the “yes” votes of Trustees Gibson-Gray, Hack, and Ruehlig on this matter.

We thank you for trying to use school money “wisely” and for your work on attempting to get our school district on track.

My husband and I have been AUSD parents since 2005, we’re appreciative that our children have access to quality education. All teachers we’ve encountered, dating from 2005 to today are intelligent and caring with a strong will to see their students succeed.

It’s our observation that our wonderful teachers aren’t provided the full support they need. We, parents/guardians, district leaders and staff must fulfill our obligations, so our teachers can focus on teaching. We feel the demands placed on them are unfair and unrealistic. We are asking too much – that they uphold rigorous instruction; that they provide peer-like support; that they nurture their classroom like a household; that they become counselors and therapists … all of which we expect them to do equally and simultaneously. In addition, it’s important to note that Students’ familial background plays a major role on behavior and academic performance which further amplifies the demand on our teachers.

The troubles of our district aren’t its negative image, it’s the crumbling support from district leadership to teachers which then dominos to students-parents/guardians. Such discord creates negative narrative that spreads in the community and beyond. Chasing a positive image through social media will not solve the problem. The problem is what’s causing the negative image in the first place.

We urge you to kindly reconsider the allocation of the $75,000.00 amount, please if it’s not too late.

Here are some thoughts we had, but we’re sure our community also has pertinent suggestions on how $75,000.00 of school funds can be better utilized within our schools.

  1. Hiring a well-established firm to survey the needs of our teacher through anonymous polling.

1a. Pouring attention and continuing / building genuine collaboration toward a resolution.

  1. Offering a bonus to a current district office employee serving within the public relations department to manage photo and media updates.
  2. Offering parenting support to parents/guardians by a licensed mental health and family professional.
  3. Increasing teachers’ stipend and/or giving year-end bonus.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

April Ussam-Lemmons

Joshua Lemmons

Antioch

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Antioch School Board approves spending $75,000 to improve district’s public image on split vote

Monday, October 30th, 2017

Hires three local contractors for writing, photography and videography services

By Allen Payton

At their board meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 25 the Antioch School Board voted 3-2 to hire three contractors to provide photography, videography and public relations services to help improve the district’s public image. Board President Walter Ruehlig and Trustees Diane Gibson-Gray and Gary Hack voted in support while Board Vice President Debra Vinson and Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White were opposed.

Listed on the agenda under the Consent Calendar as item “Q. Vendor Agreements for Freelance Information,” district staff described it as follows: “As part of the Antioch Unified School District’s goal of community engagement, the District issued a call for freelance writers, videographers, and photographers. Applications were screened and the attached vendor agreements met the criteria established in the posting. These vendors will provide original content related to our District in the form of news and feature stories, informational and promotional videos, and photography of District events, etc.”

One contract is with local, self-described event photographer Beverly Knight, another one is with Melissa Hammack Photography, and both are not to exceed $25,000 and will last through next June.

The third eight-month contract is with Mike & Mike Media, LLC and is also not to exceed $25,000. Mike & Mike Media AUSD contract 10-25-17

The contracts are all the same for writing stories, videography and photography services and include the following: $250 for news stories of up to 250 words with photos, $500 for up to 500 words and $600 for stories up to 1,000 words; videography services of up to 10 minutes at $1,500; and photography services up to $1,300 for 50-100 photos at one location with significant editing.

But, the prices and the fact it doesn’t include either of their names just the name of the company, the contract with Mike & Mike Media is the most controversial because the company is partly owned by Mike Burkholder who is the owner and publisher of the local news website, EastCountyToday.net. His partner is local photographer Michael Pohl. Burkholder has been very critical of other media in East County over the years, posts articles with spelling and grammatical errors, was a candidate for school board in last year’s election critical of other candidates including Sawyer-White, and has been very critical of Vinson, as well.

However, before Wednesday night’s vote Burkholder said he now mainly publishes press releases on his website, no longer covers the school district in articles and was considering shutting down or selling his site.

Antioch Superintendent Stephanie Anello handles most communication with the media, as the district does not have a Public Information Officer.

“AUSD is the only district without outreach,” Burkholder explained to the Herald prior to the board vote. “Pittsburg and Mt. Diablo have PIO’s.”

“The more content sent out…the more you get,” he continued. “The more you know about and can share with your readers or do your own stories. Or heads up to events rather than last minute invites from board members.”

However, the contract with Mike & Mike Media is not for PIO services and Burkholder will not serve in that capacity. Anello and the Board President, currently Walter Ruehlig, will continue to be the individuals communicating with the media for official comment by the district.

 

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Hallelujah Night alternative to Halloween at Cornerstone Christian Center in Antioch, Tues. Oct 31

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

At Cornerstone Christian Center, 1745 E. 18th Street in Antioch

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Trunk or Treat at Golden Hills Community Church in Antioch on Halloween Tues. Oct 31

Friday, October 27th, 2017

1800 Woodland Avenue at the corner of E. 18th Street in Antioch.

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Annual Holy Eve Community Carnival at Grace Bible Fellowship in Antioch Tuesday, Oct. 31

Friday, October 27th, 2017

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Meals on Wheels and Senior Outreach Services need volunteers in Antioch

Friday, October 27th, 2017

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Teams needed for the Leo Fontana Foundation Trivia Night 2 on Sat. Nov 4

Friday, October 27th, 2017

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In Memoriam: Joanne Waldie, widow of the late Antioch native and Congressman Jerome Waldie passes

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

Joanne Waldie, wife of the late Antioch native and former politician Jerome R. Waldie, passed away earlier this month, due to complications related to Alzheimers.  She was born on July 3, 1927 and passed away on October 11, 2017.  She is survived by her three children, Jill Waldie of Placerville, Jon and Kathy Waldie of El Dorado, and Jeff and Kim Waldie of South Lake Tahoe.  She leaves behind 7 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.

Waldie Plaza where the summer concerts in the park are held in Antioch’s downtown was named for the late Congressman.

No service will be held per her request. She asked that any donations in her memory be directed to local non-profit animal rescue organizations. 

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