Antioch School Board cuts 29 classified staff positions on contentious split vote

By Allen Payton

During their Wednesday board meeting, the Antioch School District Trustees voted 3-2 to eliminate almost 29 classified staff positions for the 2020-21 school year in response to the proposed budget cuts by Governor Newsom. AUSD Reduction in Classified Service Resolution 05-27-20

According to the district staff report, “the California Education Code requires that classified employees whose positions will be eliminated or reduced due to lack of work or lack of funds receive at least 60 days written notice prior to the date on which their position reduction and/or layoff becomes effective. Statute also requires that classified employees whose positions are categorically-funded receive notification of layoff on or before April 29 of the calendar year when their positions will end due to the expiration of funding.”

“We’ve tried our best…at keeping as many positions as possible,” said Deputy Superintendent Jessica Romeo. “I will not pretend a different position…is not hard on employees. But we are doing our best to see what other positions we have in the district to keep as many employees as possible. All of these individuals would have the right to substitute…to keep some income.”

Board President Diane Gibson-Gray read public comments, which included those from district teachers and staff.

Amy Gonzales wrote, “As one of the 28.788 jobs being put up for elimination, I understand…cuts must come. I think that the pandemic has shown food workers are essential in our community. I think students will say the library will be high on their list. As a high school registrar, I don’t just enroll new students.” She then provided a long list of other tasks she fulfills. “Enrolling new students only takes up 5% of my job.”

Sheila Driscoll wrote, “It seems like every time the budget gets cut classified takes the brunt of the cuts. Instructional aids are important to each school. I’m willing to hold off on pay raises if it means my fellow workers keep their jobs. It’s too early to be laying people off. We have to work together.”

Teacher Maureen Hatfield wrote, “I am very concerned with layoffs of library staff at the elementary level. With the layoffs…our ability to address those needs (of reading) will be hampered. Please do not take this valuable resource away from our children.”

Staff member Lisa Perry wrote, opposing the elimination of the homeless education liaison. “This is a federally mandated position, so the district will have to find someone else to take on these duties. Homelessness and instability will increase. A high level of financial and emotional support is necessary for these students. This position is completely funded with Title 1 funds from the federal government.”

Julie Cross wrote about her concerns with the cuts to library staff. “Society can’t afford to lose them.”

Jennifer Zamora wrote, “The closing of elementary libraries is one place that shouldn’t be cut.”

Madeline Crooks wrote concerning the cuts to library tech staff and the homeless liaison position. “I truly hope this district can find a way to keep these positions.”

“Why cut so many classified staff who are needed to run our district so much?” wrote someone who chose to be anonymous.

An Antioch High School staff member, Samantha Lipscomb wrote, “When we cut our vital registrars…who has helped me for countless years is frightening. In addition, they are cutting our college and career coordinator. Do what is right for the kids. A smile and helpful heart cannot be replaced by a computer.”

Jenna Wesenhagen, an Antioch High School employee wrote about classified staff, “They are too important to eliminate,” then provided a long list of tasks they perform.

Leslie Scudero wrote, “Essential meaning absolutely necessary. This year cuts the remaining five positions” in the elementary school libraries.

She then suggested the district “eliminate all outside vendors and conferences. We have highly educated staff that can squeak by. Cut the services of Strategic Threat Management, you’re not getting your money’s worth. We have site safety staff who can do the job. I for one would gladly give up a week or two from my work year to save the classified employees. Ask if the jobs…you’re cutting are essential.”

Superintendent Stephanie Anello then read more public comments.

Jessica Kelp wrote, “When I say we, I mean everyone on the high school campus,” then mentioned the difficulty of students having to travel off campus to get transcripts with the elimination of registrars.

Another commenter wrote “If we keep cutting positions, we will have nothing to run our schools. We cannot demand the most while giving the least. Teachers respect the classified staff you are proposing cutting, this evening.”

Jeff Adkins a staff member, wrote, “How does moving someone to the central office more efficient than leaving them on site

Christy Hansen, an elementary teacher, called cutting elementary library positions “short sighted.”

Kimball Elementary teacher Kenneth Kent referring to the COVID-19 wrote, “I worry layoffs in classified staff will make sanitizing impossible” among other concerns with the staff cuts.

Then the board took up the matter.

Trustee Ellie Householder spoke first. “I hear you all very loud and clear. I want to thank the staff for the hard work in developing this recommendation. But it is a recommendation. I don’t see a reason why we have to vote on this, tonight. My preference would be to hold off maybe a week, a couple of days…to sit down and have a study session…so we can say we have no other options. These are unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. With that I am going to be voting to reject this recommendation. Let’s pump the breaks for a minute. We should triple and quadruple check.”

Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White then shared her thoughts.

“I think that we should, I’m supporting Trustee Ellie Householder as a parent and teacher,” she said, then spoke of going line by line through the proposed cuts, and then teacher safety.

Gibson-Gray then pointed out that Sawyer-White was off topic and asked her to only discuss the staff cuts.

“Safety is the key before we consider the next school year,” Sawyer-White stated. “This is a pandemic and health is the issue.”

Trustee Mary Rocha said, “As a former classified (employee), I feel badly having to make a decision like this. There’s a requirement…we have to take action on. It’s not just going to be classified that will take a brunt.”

Gibson-Gray spoke next saying, “We have to have a qualified budget to stay out of…receivership. We have to make these cuts tonight. This is the layoff notice…many times we’re able to find money by July 1st. I’m confident…this has gone through a thought process. This needs to be done. If anything changes the cuts will be rescinded if there are the funds.”

Rocha then made the motion to approve the resolution eliminating the positions and Trustee Gary Hack seconded it.

“I just wanted to add, tonight isn’t the deadline to make this decision. We do have a little bit of time to make this decision,” Householder reiterated. “I would hope the process would be more transparent. When I hear…staff and the community doesn’t know how this process happened. I want the community to know we’ve done everything to save these people’s jobs. Even though you’ve been in this position, before this is fundamentally different.”

“I’m confident that any position that’s unfilled and not needed for the next school year was eliminated,” said Gibson-Gray. “I would recommend you have a conversation with the superintendent. I am very reflective that these are people. This is how it’s done. It’s a process. By the end of July…if we’re able to save 14 people, then 14 can stay.”

“I have to push back a bit. It’s not fair to say this is a process,” Householder said. “Our board, whose essential existence is that we approve or deny a budge recommendation. We approve this final budget…and we can wait. It’s our decision. It’s not staff. We are the board that approves the budget. I think it’s unfair you characterize it like that.”

“And I think it’s unfair you characterized it like that,” Gibson-Gray shot back.

“We must have a budget by Friday,” Romeo explained. “If you look at a dollar amount in this resolution it does not have all the budget reductions for next year. But, I will continue to do that…to continue to look for ways to…keep as many positions as possible. We do have to follow legal requirements…with whatever contracts we have.”

Sawyer-White then said, “I would like to ask legal counsel. If we could have a closed session and have someone who is an attorney with respect to COVID shelter-in-place. This is a serious matter. I’ve seen several emails. These are people.”

“We have to have a budget that is public as of next Friday” June 5th “that will come before the board on June 10th. Then on June 24th it will be up for adoption by the board and this process has been published,” Romeo explained.

“It’s hard. Some of them are family members,” said Rocha.

“I would like to convey to Trustee Rocha that this can be postponed,” Sawyer-White said.

“It can’t be postponed…June 5th,” Rocha could be heard saying within range of her microphone.

“I can see what’s going on here. Parents are contacting me. They’re depressed. Please postpone this,” Sawyer-White appealed.

“I spent 15 years on a bargaining team. I’ve been here and done that so many times and it’s painful” Hack said. “But there’s rules and there’s laws that have to be adhered to in a timely manner. We had a tentative agreement back in February then all heck happened. But there’s still a timeline. The state won’t let us put it off.”

The motion to approve the cuts then passed on a 3-2 vote with Gibson-Gray, Rocha and Hack voting in favor, and Sawyer-White and Householder voting against.

Following are the positions listed in the adopted resolution that were eliminated for the 2020-21 school year:

Position                                                                                               Full-Time Equivalent

CURRICULUM COORDINATOR                                                               1.000

DISTRICT ATTENDENDANCE LIAISON-BILINGUAL                         1.000

INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANT                                                                 6.192

INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANT, BILINGUAL                                         1.752

LIBRARY MEDIA TECHNICIAN I                                                            5.000

OFFICE ASSISTANT – CLASSIFIED HUMAN RESOURCES                1.000

PRINT SHOP RECORDS AND INFORMATION TECHNICIAN             1.000

REGISTRAR I                                                                                               4.406

REGISTRAR II                                                                                              3.000

REGISTRAR III                                                                                            2.000

STUDENT FIELD ASSISTANT                                                                   1.000

STUDENT MONITOR                                                                                  0.438

WAREHOUSE WORKER DRIVER                                                            1.000

Total FTE                                                                                                        28.788

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AUSD Reduction in Classified Service Resolution 05-27-20
AUSD Reduction in Classified Service Resolution 05-27-20


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