Antioch School Board continues 2-2 split on reappointing Mary Rocha to district’s Personnel Commission

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Trustee absences give it to State Superintendent Torlakson to make appointment

By Allen Payton

Due to the absence of Trustee Gary Hack at the Sept. 27 board meeting, the Antioch School Board split 2-2 on voting to reappoint former Antioch Mayor Mary Rocha to the district’s Personnel Commission. Trustees Vinson and Sawyer-White voted against her reappointment. Then due to Gibson-Gray’s absence at the Oct. 11th meeting, there were still not three votes to approve her reappointment and the item was pulled from the agenda.

According to the commission’s Rules and Regulations, “the California Education Code…provides the Personnel Commission with the right and responsibility for establishing rules and regulations to govern the District’s classified (non-faculty) employees.”

Following is the staff report on the item for the Sept. 27 meeting:

The term of the current Board of Education appointee to the Personnel commission will expire at noon on December 2, 2017.  As outlined in Personnel Commission Rule 20.1.2.2 and Education Code 45248, 45245 and 45246, on or before September 1st of each year, the Human Resources Director shall notify the Board of Trustees of the name and address of the commissioner whose term will be expiring and whether or not that commissioner will accept reappointment for another three-year term.

The Director of Human Resources notified us that the Board of Education’s appointment’s term will expire in December and that Ms. Rocha would accept reappointment for another three-year term.

Personnel Commission Rule 20.1.2 states:

“The Board of Trustee’s Appointment:  By September 30th, the Board of Trustees shall publicly announce the name of the person it intends to appoint or reappoint.  At a Board meeting to be held after 30 and within 45 days of the date the board publicly announced its candidate, the Board shall hold a public hearing to provide the public, employees and employee organizations the opportunity to express their views on the qualifications of the person recommended by the Board of Trustees for appointment. The Board at that time may make its appointment or may make a substitute appointment or recommendation without further notification or public hearing.”

The vacancy was announced with a recruitment to target all regular advertisement, recruitment sources, social media and websites.  Recruitment closed on September 5th and only one application was received.

Staff is recommending that, in accordance with Personnel Commission Rule 20.1.2, a public hearing be held to provide the public, employees, and employee organizations the opportunity to express their views on the qualifications of the person recommended by the Board of Trustees, and thereafter, that the Board reappoint Mary Rocha to fulfill the term for the Board-appointed Commission.

Mrs. Rocha has over 44 years in public service, with 16 of those years serving as a board trustee for the Antioch Unified School District.  She is familiar with the policies, procedures and budgets for the school district, as well as personnel commission rules, and regulations.  Ms. Rocha believes in the underlying philosophy of the merit system to include providing the best qualified candidates for employment in a timely and efficient manner to support the District’s goal to advance student achievement.

According to the rules for the commission as seen on the district’s website, it “is composed of three (3) individuals who must be registered voters, reside in the Antioch Unified School District and be “known adherents to the principles of the merit system”.  One member of the commission is appointed by the Board of Trustees, one member is appointed by the Board of Trustees upon the recommendations of the classified employees’ organization, which represents the largest number of the District’s classified employees, and the third member is appointed by the other two (2) members of the Commission.”

Rocha is currently the board-appointed member of the commission.

Instead of being reappointed by the Board Rocha said, “I will have Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent (of Public Instruction) sign off my Personnel Commission position.”

That is expected to occur by early December, she shared.

Board President Ruehlig responded to questions about the matter.

“Mary was the only applicant both times (original and reappointment). We advertised in several…media.”

“This is not all that unusual,” he continued. “For years I was trying to get a replacement on the County Library Commission and there was no response. Crystal and Debra showed an interest in putting it back to advertisement, but I understand that we spent $1,800 advertising and the Personnel Commission has no caveat against there being only one applicant. With 44 years public service and 16 years on the School Board, Mary, whatever you feel about her, certainly is legitimate. On top of all that, we have deadlines.”

Asked about the commission and why the State Superintendent will fill the vacancy, Antioch Superintendent Stephanie Anello said, “Districts are not required to have a Personnel Commission related to their classified staff. However, they can and must vote on it as a bargaining unit. Antioch is one of approximately 100 districts in the State that have a PC. I am including our PC Director, Lynda Sifford on this email as she is the guru of all things Personnel Commission related.”

A question to Sifford asking if it was state law that the State Superintendent fills vacancies on such commissions was sent after close of business on Tuesday.

An attempt to reach both Vinson and Sawyer-White, to provide their reasons for voting against Rocha’s reappointment, was unsuccessful before publishing.

Please check back later for any additions to this report.

 

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Publisher @ October 18, 2017

Antioch School Board hears complaints about high rental charges for football stadium

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Eels Stadium at Antioch High. File photo by Luke Johnson

Vinson, Sawyer-White want greater reimbursement for conference expenses

By Robbie Pierce

At their October 17, 2017 meeting the Antioch School Board was given an earful from one youth sports organization about what they feel are overcharges for the use of Antioch High’s Eels Stadium football field.

“There is no justification for what we’re being charged… There is something wrong here,” said Arrieanna Lombard, representing the Delta Valley Wolfpack Football and Cheer Club. “There is something really wrong with what we’re being charged.”

Lombard, via a speaker card, spoke multiple times during the most recent Antioch Board of Education meeting held Oct. 11, to raise awareness of an issue with fees levied against her club by the board for using Antioch High School facilities and fields. The fees were, according to her claim, in excess of $2000 per game, while school football teams – her club is not affiliated with any school district, but leases the rights to use the grounds for practices and games – are only charged around $700 to rent the field for the whole day.

The issue regarding Wolfpack’s fees was actually given a dedicated spot on the agenda for the meeting by Trustee and Board Vice President Debra Vinson under Item 12 – Items for Discussion by Board as sub-items 1 and 2, “Concession Stands” and “Direct Cost Analysis for Use of Custodial Fees and Custodial Cost”. Both were requested to be on the agenda by Vinson. Lombard spoke during the review of each item, as well as during Item 6 – Public Comments about 30 minutes beforehand.

On an evening in which one trustee, Diane Gibson-Gray, was absent, student delegates were asked to stay home due to air quality concerns, and several items were skipped outright due to no speakers being present for them, Lumbard’s impassioned speeches were the most charged portions of the meeting.

“We’ve been dealing with this issue since August, and it’s now October and we still don’t have any resolution on it,” Lombard said. “We would not be here if there was communication and transparency.”

She explained that the Civic Center Act is meant to, in her words, “ensure that school facility and fields are available to the public for acceptable use pursuant to the board policies and procedures.”

That Act clearly outlines the rules and guidelines for the use of school facilities by extracurricular organizations, and also strictly and clearly states what can and cannot be included in the fees for using them. The Act was amended this year by SB 1404, which added extra items that could factor into the total charge as “capital costs”.

Lombard had no issue with the addition of fees, instead her problem – and Wolfpacks’s problem – was the way the implementation of SB 1404 was handled and announced.

“Timing matters… the Wolfpack were notified about an increase in fees the last week of July, well our season starts the beginning of August, so we had no time to make changes according to fees that you’re going to raise,” she stated. “That’s not fair.”

The board seemed to very sympathetic to Lumbard’s issue, and made it clear the extra cost was an accident.

“Sometimes we get praised, sometimes we get criticized. I would have to say this is one of those times we deserve some criticism,” Board President Walter Ruehlig observed. “But, I would like to clarify I don’t believe [the extra fees are] from intent. I don’t think anyone up here wants to sock it to our kids in sports.”

Associate Superintendent for Business and Operations, Teresa Santamaria added that her biggest concern is “to make sure that we are charging them fairly, and not overcharging them.”

“I actually brought this on because I’d like for it to be resolved,” Vinson explained. “We’ve been dealing with this issue, actually, since I’ve been on the board. So, I think we need to really put some energy into really trying to resolve this and making it a priority. These are our children, this is our community, and we owe them that.”

The board as a whole agreed, as they all sought to research the issue, find out exactly how the fees became so exorbitant, and have a resolution to discuss by the next meeting.

“Given that it’s been delayed this long, I think we need to fast-track the item,” Superintendent Stephanie Anello commented.

Reimbursement of Trustees’ Conference Expenses

Outside of reviewing their process for levying fees for school facility usage, the board also took time to discuss two board policies regarding reimbursing board members for expenses associated with attending education related conferences.

Vinson formally requested a change to Board Policy 9240, which sets up procedure for board members to be reimbursed for any expenses during trips to educational or training conferences. Vinson’s request is to allow the district to pay the bill upfront, via invoice, for any official California School Board Association events instead of having reimbursement being the only option, telling the story of how one event she attended recently was willing to use an invoice, but she was not able to take that option because Board Policy 9240 did not allow for it.

President Ruehlig said such a request was “fair and reasonable”, and stated the board would likely discuss it at next meeting.

Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White, in the final sub-item, cited that Board Policy 9352 sets a flat $400 reimbursement to every board member who attends a meeting, but allows for extra payment in exceptional circumstance, and requested extra payment for the four-hour meeting in September in which the board decided to discipline trustee Vinson. Superintendent Anello committed to do research into relevant policy and legislation to find out how much reimbursement they could ask for, citing a recent court case that might have affected the previous limits.

Other Board Action

Beyond that, the board passed two resolutions for immediate action, one legally declaring that every school in the district has “sufficient” textbooks and instructional materials (such a declaration is required by Education Code 60119 and Senate Bill 550) and one authorizing Provisional Internship Permits, or PIPs, for three teachers in the district; Melissa Holmes-Molina, Steven Nosanchuk and Jennifer Uresti.

The board also collectively and unanimously accepted two new board policies that were presented in a revised form for Second Reading and Action – 1312.3, a revised policy for Uniform Complaint Procedures and 5146, a new policy dealing with policies and procedures for married/pregnant/parenting students.

The meeting closed with a brief discussion of planning for future meetings. Vinson expressed a desire for a study session for strategic planning within the next few months to discuss systemic issues within the school district such as declining enrollment. Sawyer-White made the point that according to Governor Brown, California is experiencing record numbers of homeless and asked the district to do something about it. Anello pledged to get some numbers together for the board.

Pierce is a new reporter for the Antioch Herald, is a student at Los Medanos College and writes for the school newspaper, The Experience.

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Publisher @ October 17, 2017

Music Series at Antioch Library begins with Dave Rocha Jazz Monday, Oct. 30

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Dave Rocha will perform jazz in Antioch Oct. 30. Courtesy of DaveRochaJazz.com

The Antioch Library is proud to present a Music Series sponsored by Keller Canyon Mitigation Funds. The series kicks off with Dave Rocha Jazz on Monday, October 30th at 6:30pm. Dave Rocha has been performing with his jazz group for more than 20 years. His band plays an eclectic mix of jazz standards (by Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, John Coltrane, etc.) “pop” tunes (Cole Porter, Gershwin and Jobim) and original compositions. This covers a wide variety of styles from up-tempo bebop, “modal” tunes, swing and blues, to Latin jazz, ballads and jazz waltz.

In addition to his trumpet expertise, Rocha is also an accomplished flugelhorn player. This instrument is similar to the trumpet, but has a larger bell, which gives it a darker, mellower sound.

The series is funded with Keller Canyon Mitigation Funds administered through Contra Costa County Supervisorial District 5 Office of Federal Glover.

The Antioch Library is located at 501 West 18th Street. The Library is open:  Monday and Tuesday, 12-8, Wednesday and Thursday 11-6, and Saturday 12-5. For further information, phone the Library at 925-727-9224.

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Publisher @ October 17, 2017

Red Sand Project in Antioch to raise awareness of human trafficking Thursday, Oct. 19

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Publisher @ October 16, 2017

Hot Rods 4 Paws Car Show benefit for pets, Saturday, Oct. 21 at Petco in Brentwood

Posted in: Community, Pets & Animals | Comments (0)

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Publisher @ October 16, 2017

Family fun at Lumpy’s Diner 9th Annual Car Show and Burger Eating Contest, Sat. Oct 14

Posted in: Business, Community, Dining, Recreation | Comments (0)

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Publisher @ October 13, 2017

The Church@Antioch offers opportunity to assist victims of North Bay fires Friday until 8 p.m.

Posted in: Community, Faith, Fire | Comments (0)

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Publisher @ October 13, 2017

Winners announced in An Elderly Wish Foundation’s annual Fund-A-Wish Drawing

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Bill Chapman and Susan Dragon Presser congratulate 1st Prize winner Susannah Meyer (center). Photo courtesy of An Elderly Wish Foundation.

By Mary Chapman, Executive Director

The 3rd Annual Fund-A-Wish Drawing on September 21st, to benefit An Elderly Wish Foundation, was a big success. All 100 tickets at $100 each were sold. The reception at Umpqua Bank was attended by 100 guests who enjoyed delicious appetizers with wine courtesy of Oak Ridge Winery.

The lucky winners were 3rd Prize – $250 was won by Mary Olds; 2nd Prize – $750 was won by Rick Kaiser and the 1st Prize of $1,000 was won by Susannah Meyer. Also, Oak Ridge Winery donated a 3-litre bottle of wine which was won by Olga Martinez.

The Board of Directors thanks everyone for helping us make senior wishes come true. For more information about the organization and the wishes it has granted to seniors, visit www.elderlywish.org.

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Publisher @ October 13, 2017