Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Crucial program comes to Antioch High this week

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

Antioch High School will host the vital Every 15 Minutes program on Thursday and Friday, April 26 and 27. The program challenges students to think about drinking, driving, personal safety and the responsibility of making mature decisions when lives are involved. There are 40 students participating in the event – angels, living dead and pall bearers.

About 900 juniors and seniors will see the presentation, which includes car crash victims, a variety of actual first-responders, including the Antioch Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Contra Costa Fire, paramedics and EMTs and even the county coroner.

National statistics show there is a fatality every 15 minutes due to driving under the influence; thus, the name of the national program.

Principal Louie Rocha feels strongly about what is offered in this program, which is timed to coincide right before prom and graduation are held.

The two-day event starts with “the crash” at 10 a.m. Thursday the 26th at the Contra Costa County fairgrounds. The student participants who play the “living dead” actually stay the night in Beede Auditorium with no contact with anyone outside the area. They’re reunited with their families at the assembly at 10 a.m. Friday the 27th in the AHS auditorium.

During this emotionally charged “memorial,” AHS grad Marcella Gomez will share her experience as a survivor of a major crash, which took the lives of her parents when she was just nine-years-old.

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Los Medanos College to hold groundbreaking ceremony for new Brentwood Center

Monday, April 9th, 2018

Los Medanos College (LMC) will be holding a groundbreaking ceremony for its new Brentwood Center on Wednesday, April 18, at 1:00 p.m. at the site of the future facility.  The new site is located at Pioneer Square and Miwok Place in Brentwood (near the intersection of Vineyards Parkway and Marsh Creek Road, just off of Highway 4).  The public is welcome to attend and the event is free; RSVPs are not required, and complimentary parking will be available.

This groundbreaking ceremony celebrates upcoming construction of a permanent Brentwood Center, which will expand and enhance learning opportunities for LMC students and Contra Costa County residents in the easternmost part of the College’s service area.  The new one-story Center, designed by Ratcliff Architects, will be approximately 55,000 square feet.  The project will be constructed on a 17.5 parcel purchased by Contra Costa Community College District (CCCCD) in 2011.  It will feature instructional classrooms, science labs, student support services, library resources, tutorial labs, bookstore and food service areas, “linger and learn” space, faculty/staff offices, and more than 700 parking stalls.  The current Brentwood Center, located in a leased facility at 101A Sand Creek Road in Brentwood, first opened in 2001.  The existing space consists of 22,000 square feet and serves approximately 2,800 students – accounting for about one-third of LMC’s enrollment.

The permanent $65 million facility is made possible through funding from CCCCD Bond Measures A (2006) and E (2014), thanks to support from voters in Contra Costa County.  Construction is expected to be completed in 18-24 months, with the new Brentwood Center projected to open in Spring 2020.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Adams, jadams@losmedanos.edu or (925) 473-7302.

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Deer Valley High Virtual Enterprise team wins big at competition in March

Friday, March 30th, 2018

From the DVHS Facebook page

On March 17-18, Deer Valley High School’s Virtual Enterprise team participated in its final competition of the year where it took home prizes in three categories.

In total, there were 79-Virtual Enterprise firms and 1,112 students in attendance from not only California, but across the United States, including one team from Germany.

  • Elijah Minyard – 1st place for the One Minute Elevator pitch
  • Marc Bates, Pedro Molina, Saafir Farrell, and Dominic Smith – 3rd place for company branding and logo
  • Connor Landrum – Honorable mention (a top 10 finalists) for his video commercial

According to Kristofer Freeman, Business Technology Academy Lead at Deer Valley High School, it was their highest scoring year thus far.

Deer Valley High Robotics Team. Courtesy of AUSD.

Minyard, who serves as the class CEO, explained that they came up with the idea of Claws and Paws Paradise, a luxury resort for dogs and cats, after a fellow student shared their passion about animals with them.

Marc Bates highlighted that just by doing a lot of the work associated with this business, it opened his eyes to what its like to run a business and what options are available to him.

“The biggest thing I learned is you need to be informed about a lot of things such as the human mind because you have to know how people perceive things. Like with graphics and IT, we had to learn colors and certain positions of items on layouts because it would change people’s opinions,” explained Bates.

“For example, the blue we chose was calm and a refreshing vibe so when people leave their pets here it gives off a calm and relaxed feeling.”

Minyard added that he believed the great thing about Virtual Enterprise was how accommodating it was for everyone; it allowed people to use all their skill sets to help the business. “People have different styles and ideas of how to pursue things, because we have different interest in things, there are different departments that cater to student’s interests and skill set,” explained Minyard. “The great thing is you get to develop your communication skills as well as social skills, so you learn to have clear communication with other departments with all the other employees. It also helps you learn how to promote yourself when you go into business because your communication skills are that much better.”

In total, six AUSD students completed in the competition at the Oakland Convention Center on behalf of the roughly 30-student class.

“We got to go into the competition and represent our classroom and share how much work the class did and hopefully do well,” said Maynard. “It was thrilling.”

Freeman explained that the students scored in the top 10% of the United States for Virtual Enterprises which is an international organization. The students’ business plan also scored in the top 42 for California.

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Deer Valley Performing Arts teacher Michelle Stark named Antioch Teacher of the Year

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

Michelle Stark (with flowers) is congratulated by District Director for Program Improvement, Mike Santos (left), Associate Superintendent of Educational Services, Christine Ibarra, and Deer Valley High Principal Ken Gardner (right) on Wed., March 21, 2018. Photo by AUSD.

On Wednesday, March 21, 2018, Antioch Unified School District Associate Superintendent of Educational Services, Christine Ibarra, Deer Valley High School Administration, and members of the AUSD Educational Services Team congratulated Michelle Stark, the Deer Valley Academy of Performing Arts Lead Teacher, on winning AUSD’s Teacher of the Year.

According to the DVHS website, “Mrs. Stark is in her 10th year at DV and this is the third year she serves as the Lead Teacher for the DVAPA She has four children that graduated from Deer Valley.”

From the DVHS Facebook page:

Michelle Stark

Mrs. Michelle Stark has been a teacher at Deer Valley High School for over ten years. During her tenure, Mrs. Stark has taught Show Choir, Divine Voices, and Production Practicum. During the 2015-16 school year, Mrs. Stark was named DVAPA (Deer Valley Academy of Performing Arts) Lead. Since that time, Mrs. Stark has taken DVAPA from good to great! During her time at DVHS, Mrs. Stark has involved DVHS to engage with both the school and city community. Mrs. Stark arranges student led performances both at DVHS as well as private events where her students are requested.

Mrs. Stark teaches a wide range of students- some come with great experience, while others have no experience singing whatsoever. Mrs. Stark teaches each and every student who enters her classroom and all her students love her for the time, patience, creativity, and passion that she brings each and every day to her classroom. Mrs. Stark positively engages and effectively manages all her students through positive relationships. Walking into Mrs. Stark’s class, you can feel the comradely between the students and themselves, as well as the respect and love they have for Mrs. Stark. Mrs. Stark takes the time to know each of her students in order to know and understand her students’ strengths and weaknesses. Mrs. Stark is able to reach all levels of students and help them build the confidence in themselves, as all her students showcase their talents multiple times throughout the school year.

Since the 2015-16 school year, Mrs. Stark has taught the DVAPA Capstone, Production Practicum. During this time, Mrs. Stark inherited a class that the majority of the students chose to drop midyear, which negatively impacted the number of students completing the requirements of the academy. Mrs. Stark wanted to improve the class and amount of students who completed the academy’s requirements. Mrs. Stark has worked tirelessly, improving DVAPA’s system of organization, as well as student completion (DVAPA has seen a 400% growth in the amount of students completing the academy since 2015). Through Mrs. Stark’s shared vision of work-based learning, she has created on campus internships, while teaming students to work together in a collaborative environment. Students are now responsible for marketing, decorating, advertising, as well as the hours it takes behind the scenes to run a show. Rather than students dropping at the second semester, we have students who are on the waiting list to be added to the class. Mrs. Stark found a way to build a community within the DVAPA academy that has positively impacted students, while giving them the necessary skills they need when seeking employment (team work, communication, problem solving, critical thinking, etc.).

Please join us in congratulating Mrs. Stark for her positive impact and contributions to her academy, our school, and community.

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Antioch High School pool named for former teacher, coach Greg DeCristofaro

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

Greg DeCristofaro. Courtesy of AUSD.

By Allen Payton

At their Wednesday, March 28, 2018 meeting, the Antioch School Board voted unanimously to name the new pool at Antioch High School after former teacher, swim/dive/water polo coach Greg DeCristofaro.

The decision was made following in which the Board encourages community participation in the process of selecting names for Facilities. That process requires a Citizen Advisory Committee to be appointed to review name suggestions and submit recommendations for the Board’s consideration.

Antioch High School formed a Citizen Advisory Committee comprising of parents, community members and staff of Antioch High School to discuss the naming and dedication of the swimming pool planned to be completed in April 2018. The Committee voted unanimously to name and dedicate the swimming pool in honor of a former teacher, swim/dive/water polo coach Greg DeCristofaro, who dedicated 37 years to Antioch High School.

They voted to name the new swimming pool facility at Antioch High “Greg DeCristofaro Aquatic Center”.

During discussion by the board, Trustee Debra Vinson said, “I don’t know who this individual is but people in the community do. I don’t know if there are any concerns to the public. Is this permanent?”

Yes, responded

I’ve known Greg for 40 years, I guess,” Board Chairman Gary Hack said. “He’s been involved from day one. He’s a great guy. Sports is his forte. My son did water polo with him years ago. If you’re going to make a choice he would be a good representative.”

“I understand from Superintendent Anello that there has been no opposition from the community,” Vinson added.

Trustee Diane Gibson-Gray said, “He was a teacher there when I was in school. My sons went there. I would have no qualms with naming anything in the district after him. But the pool site is more than apropos.”

With that the board voted unanimously for the naming.

About DeCristofaro

The Citizen Advisory Committee, made up of Lead Petitioner Catharine Harrison, Willis Ball, Craig Carson, Trine Gallegos, Antioch High Principal Louie Rocha, and Athletic Director Steve Sanchez, compiled the following background information about DeCristofaro.

It’s fitting that Greg DeCristofaro would be a swim and dive coach for decades because he’s the kind of teacher and leader who – literally and figuratively – would jump into the deep end for his students and school.

Mr. DeCristofaro – known lovingly as Coach De – taught for 37 years, his entire education career at Antioch High campus as part of a strong biology team. In that time, he coached countless students, quickly taking the lead on swim teams in the early 1970s. Soon after that, he spearheaded a boys’ water polo team and never looked back. Some two decades later, he helped the girls get their own water polo team. Over the years, there were numerous successes, including many of his teams and individual athletes making their way to championships and titles. The first year it was formed, the girls water polo team made it to the North Coast Section playoffs.

Along the way, DeCristofaro also spent some 15 years coaching the Antioch Delta Skimmer swimmers. “I had two families – the Delta Skimmers and my Panther family,” he says. If his pull to water isn’t clear – take in this detail: For 20 years during his teaching/coaching time, Coach De, wife Kathy and twin boys lived on a houseboat. “My boys didn’t have skateboards, they had wind surfboards.”

Many have fond memories of Mr. DeCristofaro, especially fellow teacher Craig Carson.

“Greg was the head boys swimming and diving coach when I came to the school in 1979,” said Carson. “He was there in the early 1970s when they had some great swimmers, including Tim Boyd and Sean Bogan to name just two. They are both in the Antioch Sports Legends Hall of Fame.” Together Coach Carson and Mr. De started the Antioch Relays in 1982 and continued running the annual swimming/diving team fundraiser for 20 years.

“(Greg) was always there for everything ‐ available to step in when needed for nearly 40 years and did so. He truly had the best interest of the kids at heart always,” Carson said.

And, there’s also Willis Ball, an AHS track coach and fellow biology teacher.

“I was busy coaching track at the same time Greg was coaching swimming,” Ball said. “I know from talking to him many times that he was the most dedicated person I ever knew when it came to wanting to do the right thing in preparing his athletes to be the best they could be. He would do whatever it took to be successful. I hope this becomes a reality in naming the swimming complex after him. It’s surely well-deserved after all the work he put in, and all the successes he had in his many years of coaching those athletes.”

Catharine Harrison, parent and community advocate, said “Coach De is a legend. While my children never swam for coach DeCristofaro (he had retired), he is well known in the aquatics community. His support and commitment for both recreational and high school swim is rock solid. His many years of dedicated, quality coaching and support of our youth should more than ensure his legacy will live on with the naming of the new AHS aquatics center.”

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Antioch School Board gives $2 million increase for teacher salaries and benefits for this school year

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

By Allen Payton

At their March 28 meeting, the Antioch School Board voted unanimously to approve the contract with the Antioch Education Association for the 2018-19 school year. The contract includes an increase in costs to the district of $2,028,500.  Summary of AEA agrmt 3.28.18

That amount includes an increase of $1,552,000 in salaries, a $292,500 increase in statutory benefits, and an increase of $183,500 in health and welfare. The source of the funds to cover the increases are carry-over money and new Local Control Funding Formula revenue.

“We appreciate your effort at completion,” said a representative of the Antioch Education Association.

“Thank you bargaining team,” said Trustee Diane Gibson-Gray.

She moved approval, Trustee Walter Ruehlig seconded the motion and it was adopted on a 5-0 vote.

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School Board holds hearing on renewal petition for Antioch Charter Academy I

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

Now in it’s 20th year.

By Allen Payton

At their March 28th meeting, the Antioch School Board received and held a public hearing regarding the petition renewal for Antioch Charter Academy I for 2018-23. Antioch Charter Academy I Petition Renewal 2018-23

According to the district staff report, “A petition was delivered to the District office seeking renewal of the Antioch Charter Academy I Charter for a five (5) year term from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2023.   To commence the renewal petition process Trustees received the renewal petition.”

The existing Charter for the Antioch Charter Academy I Charter School expires June 30, 2018.  The petition submitted to the District seeks renewal of the Charter for a five (5) year term from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2023.  Pursuant to Education Code section 47605, the District’s Board of Trustees is required to hold a public hearing to consider the level of support for the renewal of the Charter. The public hearing is an information item only and the Board decision regarding the renewal petition will be agendized for action at the April 25, 2018, meeting.

Education Code section 47607(a) provides that a charter school authorizer may grant one or more subsequent charter renewals and each renewal shall be for a period of five years. Charter renewals are governed by the standards and criteria in Education Code section 47605 and renewal petitions shall include a reasonably comprehensive description of any new requirements of charter schools enacted into law since the charter was originally granted or last renewed.

In addition, according to Education Code section 47607(b), in order for a charter school to be eligible for renewal, it must have satisfied at least one of the academic performance criteria for renewal listed in that section, and when evaluating a renewal petition, the authorizer must consider increases in pupil academic achievement for all groups of pupils served by the charter school as the most important factor in determining whether to grant the charter renewal. (Ed. Code § 47607(a)(3)(A).)  Also, when considering a renewal petition, the authorizer’s governing board “shall consider the past performance of the charter school’s academics, finances, and operation in evaluating the likelihood of future success, along with future plans for improvement if any.”

Todd Heller provided the presentation saying, “I am a co-administrator and financial director of Antioch Charter Academy and Charter Academy II. It’s hard to believe this is our 20th year of operation. It’s come a long way since the first year…with 75 students at St. George’s. We’ve moved twice.”

“We’ve received WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) accreditation and started a second school,” he continued and mentioned “low teacher turnover and high student retention rates. Currently we serve TK-8 and have a waiting list of 1,000 students.”

He mentioned that Antioch Charter Academy II was renewed last year.

Heller also said the school meets all the renewal criteria.

The Hispanic population of the school increased, while the white enrollment has decreased, he mentioned.

“We do draw from all over the county,” Heller added.

Three people spoke in favor of renewing the charter petition, including board members, referred to as “Charter Council Members”, Julie Haas-Wajdowicz and Sarah McLean, as well as Edna Heller, Todd’s wife and co-administrator who said, “we’ve been innovating for 20 years.”

Only one speaker named Julia spoke against the charter because “it’s a fraud. A scam.”

“When you give money to charter or parents you’re not giving the money out of your own pocket or wallet. You’re using the taxpayer money,” she said. “Charter parents must provide for their own financial needs. I’m going to ask you to stop all charter schools. Use charter funds to improve Antioch schools by reducing class sizes. Please do not renew the Charter I school.”

The Board decision regarding the renewal petition will be agendized for the April 25, 2018, Board meeting within 60 days of the Board’s receipt in compliance with state law.

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Antioch School Board served with middle and high charter school petitions

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

By Allen Payton

NOTE: My apologies for getting this article posted just, today. I thought it was posted two weeks ago. But, it was a preview article that I had written and posted prior to the meeting. 

Petitions were submitted to the district office for the East Bay Tech Middle School and East Bay Tech High School and the Antioch School Board held public hearings during their meeting on Wednesday, March 14. The board will make their decisions to accept or reject the petitions at their regular meeting on May 9, 2018.

Board Chairman Gary Hack said he acknowledged receipt of the petitions.

According to district staff the public hearings were required by the Education Code as part of the charter petition process. However, the public hearing was an information item only.

Meagan Moilalen, the chief petitioner spoke first.

“I’m excited to bring to the board two world class schools for Antioch,” she said. “The Antioch community and I ask you to approve the charter schools” and to “determine if our petitions meet the 15 conditions. Our charter schools do meet them.”

“We will be an educational powerhouse, not only getting every child through our schools to college, but through college to a 21st century career,” Moilalen continued. “Our model is based in…rigor, relevance and relationships.”

At Clayton Valley Charter, “each year we have 500 students on our wait list and 200 are from Eastern Contra Costa County,” she stated. “We have 600 signatures from parents in Antioch” supporting the petitions. “The mission and the vision of the schools are the same.”

Former Antioch Associate Superintendent Bill Morones, co-petitioner, spoke next giving a brief description of both schools.

“Antioch parents deserve a choice,” he said. “We’re talking about their students’ education. There are two challenges. One is we are preparing students for jobs that no longer exist. The other is once our students graduate high school they’re not graduating college.” The “drop out at 35-40%. We are not educating them adequately prepared for college. Right now, Microsoft has 5,000 available jobs. We are not doing a good job preparing our students for those jobs.”

“We’re talking technology,” Morones continued. “Our school is a public school that is free and has open enrollment. We do not self-select our students. They’re chosen by random lottery.”

“We are a failure-free school,” he explained. “We provide multiple interventions for all of our students. We provide a bridge program in English and math. We provide a free tutoring program for two hours after school. Our teachers will be tutoring our students. On Saturdays we provide tutoring for our students by our teachers. We offer intercession. Our schools essentially never close.”

“Our school is a smaller school,” said Morones. “We will know all students by their name and their needs. We will have a very strong advisory program for our students. We are a non-profit charter school. We strongly believe all parents and students in Antioch deserve a choice.”

Public Comments

Antioch resident Thomas McNell was the first member of the public to speak.

“I’m here as a supporter of all education, public education, private schools and charter schools. I took my son out of public school and put him in a charter school.  Choice is the foundation of charter schools. Recently our chamber of commerce voted to support these charter schools. Please give our children and parents a choice they believe they should have.”

Tricia Campbell spoke against the charter schools.

“I am a Antioch Middle School teacher. I have been teaching in our district for 15 years. I feel very strongly about public schools for children. I feel very strongly that corporate charter schools weaken public schools. The money it will take away from my school…all of these things that have made Antioch Middle School turn around…would be taken away with charter schools. I’m also speaking as a resident. It pretty much decimates communities. If you want a good, strong stable community, you want strong, stable schools. I do have some concerns…about their teachers work after schools, work on Saturdays and holidays.”

Richard Pagano said, “I am the CEO of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce. The Antioch Chamber of Commerce endorses and supports the adoption of the EBT at the district level to ensure oversight and the funding remains local. The business community respects the students, teachers and administrators of the AUSD schools.”

He mentioned the Pathways and Principal for a Day programs the chamber sponsors in the district’s schools.

Kevin King was next saying, “I’m a founding governing board of Clayton Valley Charter shared his experience in getting the charter petition approved and in support of the East Bay Tech charter school petitions.”

Former Antioch teacher Liz Ritchie said, “I respect all of you. I used to work here in Antioch. I spent 10 years here. I taught at Park Middle and at Deer Valley High School as a biology teacher, there. She spoke of the academies, focused programs and pathway programs. It’s not that charter schools take away from the public school environment. It offers an alternative. I would highly recommend, since there are not other tech academies near you…I’m just here for you to look at this form a different perspective.”

Student Sam Kzinski shared  his thoughts stating, “I suggest you remember my name because in a decade or two you’re going to be hearing a lot. I’m a student at Clayton Valley Charter Academy. I was in the Antioch Charter Academy II. When you have the charter environment you have families that get together and it’s quite pleasant.”

“I’m double majoring,” he continued. “I’m taking civil engineering. This summer I plan to take college classes, so I can get even more ahead. I’m also taking a lot of political science classes.”

John Crowder said “I moved to Antioch in 1989. For the last two decades I’ve been involved in education as a tutor, a teacher and a private school administrator. I’ve helped develop a math program. I’ve toured their parent school, Clayton Valley Charter. I’ve spoken to parents, teachers and students. I believe their school.”

“It will be transformative for Antioch schools,” he stated. “They will provide extended school days. They will be able to cut through the red tape. There is broad community support for East Bay Tech. Please bring forward this award-winning program to Antioch.”

A little girl named Isabella spoke next, saying “I’m in fifth grade. I go to Vista Oaks Charter School in Byron. I don’t think it’s fair that my mom has to drive so far for me to go to school. Don’t you want me to be a success? I promise I won’t let you down.”

Kipp Penovich offered a different perspective, saying “This is business and money. I worked at Clayton Valley for four years. This is not the first time the school has tried to expand. And we all know expansion means more money and market share. When it comes to education the education is taken care of teachers. When it comes to retention, Clayton Valley has a challenge.” He the mentioned that most of the teachers who were there at the beginning of the charter school had left the school.

“The administration as of last year…only one is left, since the beginning,” he continued. “As far as oversight, I would discourage you from approving this.

Richard Asadoorian, a former Contra Costa School Board Member and current board member of Clayton Valley Charter spoke next.

“These two…strongly meet these requirements,” he said. “I strongly urge you to vote in favor of these charters. Keep these two charters within the borders of the Antioch Unified School District and you will keep the oversight and add these two stellar schools to your crown.”

A woman named Julia shared her concerns with the proposed charger school.

“As a community member and taxpayer, I want to ask the school board to not to approve…and not to participate jointly in this crime to steal this hard-earned money, and hand it to wealthy CEO’s and the charter school corporation. You are paid by the taxpayers. I work two or three jobs 16 hours a day. Your job is to make poorer schools better. Not to give the poor people’s taxes to the charter corporation. Private charters should not use public taxpayer money.”

However, the proposed charter school will be a public school and funded with taxpayer funds.

Antioch resident Velma Wilson quoted Michelle Obama, then said “I am a proud parent of a special needs student. What I hear, my son would not be going to that charter school. My son has maintained a 4.0 GPA. He just got a $2,000 scholarship. Don’t tell me what our schools are not doing. They are making an impact. My daughter went through a major injury and bounced back. She carried three AP classes. I am so proud of every educator…they’re doing a bang-up job. I’m mad that someone would come and say otherwise.”

East Bay Tech Charter High School Petition Hearing

The Board then held a public hearing on the East Bay Tech Charter High School petition.

“I want to emphasize it is a public school, non-profit, public benefit,” said Moilalen. “I want to ensure this charter will be a success.”

Our students will walk out of East Bay Tech Academy and walk into a top university then into one of the many unfilled high-tech jobs.

She spoke of “rigor, relevance and relationship.”

“Why East Bay Tech is different?” Moilalen asked and then answered. “No student will fall behind. Technology will assist in monitoring ongoing progress…so students will not fall behind. As you heard charter schools are nimble. We will use flexibility afforded to charter schools. We are bringing a proven model of a high-performing charter school to Antioch. A high-performing college-prep choice.”

Public Comments

Dr. Terry Ramus, a local scientist and business owner was the first member of the public to speak.

“My wife and I have lived here for 27 years,” he said. “We raised three daughters who went through K-12. I speak in strong support of the East Bay Tech Academies. We need to provide more choices for parents to place…students in different school environments. I have toured both the Clayton school and other charter schools in the area. So, I’ve taken the time to learn more about it.”

“I also support Antioch public school,” he said. “So, you can be for charter schools. Let’s be real…we have had a lot of people who have left the community…we all know because they wanted other choices. Some sneak their kids out, now. So, what I am asking you do to is embrace it as another choice. Allow our parents to provide their students another option.”

Joshua Samuel gave an impassioned speech about education in Antioch and its effect on his son.

“I moved to Antioch a little over five years ago to start a high-tech business,” he stated. “I left behind my teenage son, Moses who attends a high-tech school in New York City. He came to live with me. I chose to put him in Deer Valley High and it was a disaster. He went from a top two-percent to a disaster. There is anecdotal evidence of why we need this school, my son Moses. I had to take him out and send him back to the East Coast. He had to leave Antioch. I couldn’t get him into Liberty or Heritage and you guys know why. He barely graduated out there because he fell so far behind. I missed out on raising him as a teenager.”

“Clayton Valley has proven that they can do the job,” Samuel continued. “We, as a community want this…need this…will support this all the way to its fruition.”

Liz Ritchie spoke of the connectedness between the middle school and high school. “I’ve also heard how Rocketship is looking to integrate with these programs,” she said. “It’s not really taken away from but adding to.”

Jennifer Alfonzo also spoke in favor, saying “I’m here tonight to ask you to approve the charter high school in Antioch. I feel like I’m missing out on all the time I have to commute to get my kids to school. I will continue to fight for our kids. Our Antioch families want to come home.”

“Money has been brought up from the other side,” she stated. “Nothing upsets me more when they bring up money when talking about the education of my children. My child is not a dollar sign to me.”

Kipp Penovich then spoke of the school’s governance, that the board will be appointed, and not locally controlled.

“In addition, when it comes to some money issues, well board members there is no restriction that they have to be local,” he said and then gave the example of Richard Asadoorian who lives in Oregon. This is about business, this is about money and this is about control.”

Student Clarissa Wilson spoke of her experience at Antioch High School where she has maintained over a 4.0.

“I am a student…who will be graduating with a full-ride scholarship. Antioch High has the oldest history of alumni who return as teachers. That says a lot.”

Sarah Savacol a teacher at Antioch High School said, “Charters. There are two kinds. For-profit and the not-for-profit, community organized type. We have one in Antioch. They are totally non-profit and they are a great addition to our Antioch Unified School District.”

“I can’t sleep if I don’t tell you for-profit charters, if you invite in a for-profit charter that is corrupt,” she stated. “Please ask the hard questions. Follow the money. Who is their CMO. Is there a millionaire behind it? I’m shocked. I’m embarrassed that someone runs one school and makes a ridiculous amount of money.”

Tammy Carr spoke against the charter petition, saying “I’m the Pittsburg Education Association President. Walter Ruehlig is one of my members. I’m here to speak in favor of public education. Education not profits should be the concern.”

Robert Strickler – Antioch teacher’s union representative said “I’m giving you an article, a report that came out less than two weeks ago, entitled ‘Fraud and waste in California charter schools.’ That’s your homework for the next two weeks.”

He spoke of a $6 billion investment in charter schools. “Most districts aren’t given adequate funding for oversight of charter schools,” Strickler stated. “An untold amount of public funding is being lost each year. Total fraud has reached over $149 million. Find out how much one person is making to run one school in the entire state.”

Kenneth Kent, a fifth-grade teacher at Kimball Elementary, said “Last time we had a corporate charter come into Antioch…we expressed grave reservations. But we pushed it through anyways. If there are reservations, vote ‘no’ until you’re fully satisfied.”

The woman named Julia spoke again, also against the high school charter petition.

“A charter is actually moving backward,” she said. “We’ve had centuries of that. Private charter schools are attacking the very existence of public schools. What do you do when your children are under attack? As a mother you protect. There are many studies that show charter schools hurt public schools. They wouldn’t be here begging for your vote. They’d be talking to wealthy people at Hilton Hotel. They are not public. They are private. If I want you to build me a school you would say ‘no.’ Put out their own money. Have some kind of consciousness.”

Velma Wilson also spoke against the charter petition.

“This is the same charter institution that came to take Dozier-Libbey from us, she said. “Now Dozier-Libbey has become one of the distinguished schools. So, clap it up. We must be doing something right.”

Willie Mims, a representative of the East County NAACP and Pittsburg Black Families Association said, “I will tell you this, if I were to offer you my opinion I would get in trouble with my organization. With the charter petition, they said there are 600 parents who have signed their petition. That should be of grave concern to you. What would make 600 parents sign a petition? So, you need to think about that. I heard folks talk about transparency and fraud. Follow the money. You need to follow the money in this school district. I don’t see too much transparency within the Antioch Unified School District. So, when you start throwing stones you need to look within.”

Hack then closed the public hearing.

The board will take up both petitions for votes at their meeting on May 9.

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