Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Community members intercede at Deer Valley Plaza

Sunday, November 9th, 2014
Debra Vinson Velma Wilson and kids 1024x576 Community members intercede at Deer Valley Plaza

Newly elected Antioch School Board Trustee Debra Vinson, Velma Wilson and local youth at the Deer Valley Plaza, last Friday afternoon.

By John Crowder

A small group of parents has decided to be proactive in addressing problems at a local shopping center by taking steps to engage students as they pass through Deer Valley Plaza (DVP) at the end of the school day.

DVP has been at the epicenter of student violence and disruptive behavior over the past few months. As widely reported in the news media, a group of students involved in fights and other troubling actions at the center, just down the street from Deer Valley High School (DVHS), has led some of the businesses located there to lock their doors at the end of the school day. The businesses, mainly fast food restaurants and Starbucks, have kept their doors locked from the time school lets out until most students have passed through and dispersed from the area.

Velma Wilson, a youth education advisor with the NAACP East County Branch, and a parent of two students who attend Antioch schools, determined to act to change that. For the last few weeks, she and others from the community, including her husband, Clarke, and Antioch Mayor Wade Harper, have been stationing themselves in the parking lot of DVP under a blue tent. There, they talk with students who come by, offering them sodas and snacks, along with words of encouragement. Wilson said that the idea for meeting with students had come from Harper, and it was his tent they were using.

On Friday, November 7, Herald staff dropped by the Plaza, unannounced, to take a first-hand look at what was happening. On that day, Wilson was joined by her husband, her two children, and two other adults, Darice Ingram and Debra Vinson. Harper was unable to be there on that day, as, according to Wilson, he was visiting a security guard who had been wounded in a gun battle in Antioch outside a local Starbucks earlier in the week.

Darice Ingram, a founder of Parents Connected, and also a member of the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) personnel commission, invited students who were passing by to stop and talk. She encouraged those she spoke with to be serious students, and, among other things, to consider taking Advanced Placement classes and to focus on preparing for college. “Most students are just kids that need to know someone cares, someone holds them accountable, and expects great things from them,” she said. She also praised Wilson for taking the initiative, noting that Wilson had provided treats for the students out of her own pocket.

Debra Vinson, who was elected last Tuesday to the AUSD board of trustees, was also in the parking lot greeting students. As they approached, she would introduce herself, ask their names, and how their school day had been. She said that, as a school board member, she wanted to be visibly involved and make sure she was accessible to everyone with a stake in the schools, including the children who attend them. “Safety concerns are shared by everyone in Antioch,” she said, “and I want to see, first-hand, what is happening with our students.”

The impression left by observing these interactions was far different than the one derived from the recent news reports. First, not all students were from DVHS. Several students who came up to meet with the parents stationed in the parking lot were from Dallas Ranch Middle School, a bit of a walk from the site. Wilson said that students from four different schools routinely came by, or passed through, the center after school let out each day.

The students were also very polite. “I have one rule,” said Wilson, “that students look me in the eye and shake hands.” Far from the belligerence frequently attributed to teens, the students on Friday seemed more shy than anything else, only reluctantly taking the sodas and snacks offered by Wilson and the others.

Jesus said, ‘suffer the little children to come unto me,’ and that is what I want to do,” said Wilson. “We can choose community over chaos. It’s imperative that we come together as a community to be better role models for our youth.”

Wilson is in the DVP parking lot every Tuesday and Friday, from 3:00 until 4:30, when school is in session.

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One, possibly two Antioch incumbents ousted from County School Board by challengers, Belle leads in upset

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

By Allen Payton

UPDATE, 3:30 p.m., 11/5/14 – Both incumbents on the County School Board in Areas 4 and 5, which include parts of Antioch, appeared to be going to down to defeat in Tuesday night’s election.

Antioch resident Richard Asadoorian trails Mike Maxwell of Danville in Area 4 by 1,712 votes. Maxwell had 14,846 votes or 52.81% of the vote to Asadoorian’s 13,134 votes or 46.72%. There were also 134 write-in votes in the election.

In the Area 5 race, which featured two more Antioch residents, challenger Jeff Belle is leadingf incumbent Cynthia Ruehlig, beating her 9,129 votes or 50.95% to 8,665 votes or 48.36%. There were 122 write-in votes cast in the election.

However, 95,000 ballots are left to be counted in the county, which could affect the outcome of both races, especially the one in Area 5, since it’s so close. The next update from the County Elections Office will be provided on Friday, November 7 at 5:00 p.m.

Belle had faced questions about his past and education claims during the race, yet was able to overcome the negative news articles about him, to win the race. But, he ran a stronger, more aggressive campaign and was able to garner the endorsement of the California Teacher’s Association, a point Ruehlig made earlier in the evening.

It was a contentious election, starting with a lively candidates forum in September, and continuing with accusations, a confrontation, and an emailed threat of retaliatory campaigning by both Belle and his wife, Carmen, toward both Ruehlig and her husband Walter, who was running for and elected to the Antioch School Board, Tuesday night. The Belles allege Cynthia emailed to others information from Belle’s ex-wife about his past. Walter Ruehlig denied any involvement by Cynthia. But Carmen Belle claims she has proof, but has yet to provide it to Herald staff.

In comments on his Facebook page, following the final election results, Belle posted the following:

Congratulations to my wife, my anchor in the victory!”

Many thanks to my supporters and critics. To God be the Glory!”

To God be the Glory who alone defines me and keeps me in His plan.”

Then, today, Belle said in an email “As far as I’m concerned it’s done. No more comments.”

Check back later for updates to this story. For more information on election results in Contra Costa County visit www.cocovote.us.

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Walter Ruehlig returns to the Antioch School Board, Vinson joins him to unseat incumbents

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014
Ruehligs Walter Ruehlig returns to the Antioch School Board, Vinson joins him to unseat incumbents

Walter Ruehlig talks with Bob Brooks, while Cynthia Ruehlig ponders the early election returns, at their home, Tuesday night.

By Allen Payton

Both incumbents in the Antioch School Board race, Joy Motts and Gary Hack, were defeated by challengers Walter Ruehlig and Debra Vinson, Tuesday night.  Ruehlig and Vinson led the other two from the first returns.

“I’m feeling a little nervous,” Vinson said after learning of the early returns. “It’s exciting. But I’m waiting.”

Earlier in the day, Vinson posted the following on her campaign’s Facebook page:

Today I am filled with gratitude. I appreciate all of the volunteers and those who contributed to my campaign to make it successful! It has been an unforgettable experience of sharing, listening, and an incredible opportunity to connect with parents, students and the community. Tomorrow a new chapter will begin and I accept the challenge. Education is the liberator for ALL students. As adults we must never give up on our students because they are the future. The zeitgeist is now!

Ruehlig, who ran for the Antioch City Council in 2012 instead of reelection, took first place in the race with 5,028 votes or 30.27%, with Debra Vinson taking the second of two seats up for election, this year, with 4,668 votes or 28.11%. Motts had 3,426 votes or 20.63% and Hack was close with 3,400 votes or 20.47%. There were 87 write-in votes, although there no officially qualified write-in candidates in the race.

Check back for updates to this story. For complete election results in Antioch and Contra Costa County, visit www.cocovote.us.

 

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Deer Valley High to host Spooktacular Trunk or Treat Car Show fundraiser Thursday

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

DVHS Spooktacular Trunk or Treat 787x1024 Deer Valley High to host Spooktacular Trunk or Treat Car Show fundraiser Thursday

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Antioch School Board splits 3-2 to approve new position of school safety supervisor

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Hears from public on school violence, budget issues

By John Crowder

At the October 22 meeting of the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) Board of Trustees, board members heard from the public on issues of school violence and school finances.

As it has for months now, school violence remained a major focus of the meeting. The first person to address the issue at the board meeting was Superintendent Don Gill. During his regularly scheduled agenda item, entitled, ‘Superintendent’s Thoughts for the Evening,’ Gill took the opportunity to provide his perspective on the matter.

We’re committed to student safety,” Gill said, “our highest priority has to be safety.”

Later in the evening, he added that the board would be asked to approve a new position, Supervisor – Site Safety and Emergency Preparedness. He said that the person in this position would provide oversight and support for all Antioch schools.

Gill also spoke about suspensions and expulsions as a means of dealing with unruly students. While AUSD leads other Contra Costa County school districts in suspensions and expulsions, according to Gill, “Suspending a child that doesn’t want to be in our schools isn’t effective.”

Gill later elaborated on his comments, explaining in more detail his thinking on school discipline.

District administrators have been working with our school administrators on an ongoing basis to find ways to address discipline issues that will create lasting, meaningful results,” Gill said. “Despite these efforts, the number of suspensions and expulsions are up over the same time period from last year. The increase is of concern to both staff and district administrators, and we continue to monitor and examine this situation closely.”

We have worked hard to build a discipline process that is effective, and that is fair and objective. Our discipline, and everything we do in our district, is built on the belief that no child, regardless of circumstances or background, is expendable in our community. I think educators recognize that all forms of discipline have limitations to their effectiveness, and that what works in one situation may not work in another. For example, suspending a child who doesn’t want to be in school in the first place – and who sees no consequences at home for the suspension – is not a lasting solution. Many expulsions, by law, are not permanent. So, while school site administrators certainly use suspensions and expulsions as a mean of discipline, they represent the top end of the discipline spectrum, and in some cases, neither may be truly a lasting solution.”

The work of keeping our schools safe for our students and our staff is our highest priority, and it is a task that requires constant attention and focus. Meaningful, lasting solutions will require the participation of everyone involved, and we are pleased our community is engaging in the kind of dialogue that is necessary to find the answers to a complex problem.”

During public comments, several people spoke on safety-related matters, expressing a wide-range of views. Gil Murillo, for the second time in two board meetings, called for the removal of Principal Ken Gardner from Deer Valley High School (DVHS). Murillo said that many parents had, “lost confidence” in Gardner’s leadership, citing teachers, parents, and students speaking out repeatedly at school board meetings about violence at that school.

A student who said she attends Dallas Ranch Middle School expressed similar concerns. There is, “uncontrolled violence in our school,” she said. “Kids are terrified to come to school,” she continued, “the [incidents] get more violent all the time.” She also said, “The students do know the blind spots. We need more teachers and more site security.”

Another aspect of school discipline was addressed by Willie Mims, Education Chair of the NAACP. Speaking after a presentation by Principal John Jimno of Park Middle School, Mims said, “The African American subgroup had tremendously disproportionate suspensions last year” at that school. Mims asked, “What have you done to address this problem that you have here?”

Jimno asked for the opportunity to respond to the question posed by Mims, and the board granted his request. “It’s a fact, I agree, I don’t duck away from that,” said Jimno. “Students of color are suspended more than anyone else. We’ve had policies in place that unintentionally caused that. The answers will come from trying different things. I don’t have the answers for you yet.”

Another student, Alejandra Amigo, a junior at DVHS, and cofounder of a group called Students in Action (SIA), announced a meeting that her group was planning for 3:00 p.m. on Friday, October 31, at the DVHS amphitheater.

We will be discussing the recent negative news about our school so that we can help the problems stop and also get the word out about a Peace Walk that the Student in Action program is planning,” she said in a subsequent statement. “This meeting will also express to the community that Deer Valley High School has many students that want to learn and are positive members of our community.” Amigo invited all present to attend the meeting.

Amigo’s mother, Candi, also spoke on the problems with some students. She said that it was the responsibility of the teachers to focus on education, “not to teach our children manners and respect…that is our job as parents.” She went on to say that parents should be held responsible for how their children behave in school.

DVHS Chemistry teacher Jeffery Swietlik offered yet another view. Focusing on what he considered a disproportionate amount of negative reporting, he said, “Stories about violence sell a lot more newspapers.” He said that, in his classroom, “In terms of behavior, there is basically no room for improvement. I never, ever, felt unsafe in my classroom.” One of Swietlik’s colleagues also spoke up, expressing his support for Principal Gardner.

Concerns regarding finances, and the oversight of district spending, were addressed by parent Julie Young when it came time for the board to approve the Consent Calendar. Young addressed three items, each of which was pulled from the Consent Calendar and discussed by the board and/or administrative staff.

The first item Young addressed was an amendment to an agreement with Comcast which would allow that firm to lease property at Antioch Middle School for only $1 per year. Staff said that Comcast was generous with help offered to AUSD schools, and this was a way the district could return the favor.

The second item Young addressed was an agreement with School Services of California, Inc. (SSC), for professional and consulting services. Young noted that this group had, at a previous board meeting, given a presentation regarding the LCAP, and wondered why, with the amount of deficit spending the district has been doing, we couldn’t find somebody on the AUSD staff to make such presentations. Young was particularly concerned that the firm would be paid, “hundreds of dollars per hour” for such mundane tasks as, “making copies.” She also noted that the contract was for three years and had no cap on expenditures.

In response to Young’s comments, Tim Forrester, Associate Superintendent – Business & Operations, said that he didn’t think the district would spend more than $30,000 on services provided by SSC and, in any event, he and Dr. Gill had authority to spend up to $50,000. With respect to the group advising on the LCAP, Forrester went on to say, “They’re the leading experts, because they’re writing the legislation.”

Board Member Claire Smith, however, did not appear satisfied with the explanation, or the contract in general. “A lot of under $50,000 purchase orders are being signed for,” she said, “but cumulatively they could go over $50,000.”

Board Member Diane Gibson-Gray also spoke out against the contract. “We’re relying on consultants, over and over again,” she said, “and we have highly paid experts here.”

The final item Young spoke about from the Consent Calendar was the aforementioned Supervisor for Site Safety position. Noting the cost of the position ($109,598 for salary and benefits), Young said the position amounted to extra spending for more bureaucrats.

Two board members, Claire Smith and Diane Gibson-Gray, expressed concerns with the item. Smith said that the proposal submitted by staff was not only costly, but, “void of any kind of qualifications.” Smith and Gibson-Gray both also stated that the board should have more input for such hiring decisions.

But two board members disagreed with Smith and Gibson-Gray on delaying the hiring. “I’ll trust you,” Board President Joy Motts told staff, “there is an urgency here.” Board Vice President Gary Hack echoed her comments, telling staff, “I have faith and trust in you.”

Following the discussion on the items, each was ultimately passed by the board. The Comcast contract was approved 5-0, the SSC agreement was approved 4-1 (Smith dissenting) and the Supervisor position was approved 3-2 (Smith and Gibson-Gray dissenting).

The next school board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 12, at the AUSD office at 510 G Street. Meetings begin at 7:00 p.m.

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County School Board candidates offer details on backgrounds, top priorities

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

By John Crowder

Four candidates are vying for two seats, each of which includes parts of Antioch, on the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) board. Richard Asadoorian, the incumbent serving Area 4, is being challenged by Mike Maxwell. Cynthia Ruehlig, the incumbent serving Area 5, is being challenged by Jeff Belle. Three of the candidates, Asadoorian, Maxwell, and Ruehlig, provided the Herald with answers to questions in which they outlined their backgrounds, experience, positions, and what they consider the most important issues in the current election. Belle, who has been dealing with allegations regarding a criminal past, and recent news articles alleging he falsified his education and medical credentials, did not respond.

Career History

Richard Asadoorian County School Board candidates offer details on backgrounds, top priorities

Richard Asadoorian

Richard Asadoorian was a classroom teacher, counselor, high school principal, director of Summer Youth Employment Training Program, restaurant owner, church youth director, served in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Coast Guard, was a domestic violence counselor for three years, and trained and was a Court Appointed Special Advocate (abused and abandoned children).

Mike Maxwell is currently Vice President of Sales for TaylorMade Water Systems/Waterlogic. He has been working for the firm since 2005. He was also the CEO for San Francisco Giants – Baseball Camps from 1996 to 2004. From 1993 to 2002 he worked for the Mt. Diablo Region YMCA as Membership, Program, and Executive Director(s). From 1984 to 1993 he was Leadership/Student Activities Director, and worked as a coach in football, baseball, golf, tennis and basketball for Monte Vista High School in Danville.

Cynthia Ruehlig is currently a Senior Level Clerk with Contra Costa County, a position she has held for 17 years. Prior to that she worked for the Central Contra Costa County Sanitary District as a Risk Management Technician. She was also a franchise owner of Teves Dry Cleaning and Steam Laundry, and worked as a computer teacher for Global Computers Corporation.

Education History

Mike Maxwell 300x285 County School Board candidates offer details on backgrounds, top priorities

Mike & Shari Maxwell

Richard Asadoorian has both a BA and MA from California State University, Fresno.

Mike Maxwell graduated from Monte Vista High School in 1981, and then attended Diablo Valley College and San Francisco State University, where he received a BA in Speech Communications in 1987.

Cynthia Ruehlig holds a BA in English from St. Scholastica’s College, Manila, and attended California State University, East Bay, obtaining a certificate in Nonprofit Management.

Why Running?

Richard Asadoorian said he was running, “to continue my service in the County Office of Education by representing the 220,000 people in Area 4 as well as Contra Costa County as a whole. To complete my election term as a delegate assembly person to the California School Boards Association and the executive committee of the California County Boards of Education. To advocate for the best legislation to serve the 173,000 students and 18 school districts in the county.”

Mike Maxwell said he was running for the following reasons:

  • It’s time we put the needs of the kids first, teachers and staff a close second

  • We need more folks fiscally responsible

  • The families and employees need a voice at the county level

  • Change is good

Cynthia Ruehlig said, “I grew up in the Philippines under Martial Law. The concept of People Power unfolded and became a reality before my eyes. The experience of the People Power revolution made me aware of the importance of the democratic process. It has molded my conviction that if you want something done – do it yourself.” She went on to say, “I believe I have the knowledge, experience, and constitution needed to become a good trustee for the County Board of Education. The CCCBOE, as an appellate body, must, at all times, maintain neutrality and uphold the intent of the law. It must adhere to its complementary role to the Office of the County Superintendent in order to ensure efficient operation of the County Office of Education.

Cynthia Ruehlig 208x300 County School Board candidates offer details on backgrounds, top priorities

Cynthia Ruehlig

Top Priorities

Richard Asadoorian said his top priorities are “to ensure that the best educational practices are being delivered to our students, to offer full transparency in board dealings, to assist districts in conducting their fiscal duties, and to be visible to my constituents.”

Mike Maxwell said his top priorities are the same as the reasons he is running for office.

Cynthia Ruehlig said her top priorities are to maintain fiscal solvency, promote transparency and accessibility, provide career oriented education and improve academic performance. She also said she wants to maintain neutrality, uphold the California Education Code, and ensure fairness in all adjudicative decisions.

Previous Accomplishments

Richard Asadoorian lists his accomplishments as being a member of the Antioch Economic Commission, and his service on the Board policy committee. Asadoorian sings the National Anthem for many civic and school functions, and is a Neighborhood Watch Captain.

Mike Maxwell listed his previous accomplishments as:

  • Developed Monte Vista High School Leadership into a self-sufficient and fiscally contributing portion of the operation of he school

  • CASC Leadership Program of the Year, MVHS, 1984

  • Brought YMCA programs to 600+ students annually at 8 high schools

  • Past President, Rotary Club of Pleasant Hill

Cynthia Ruehlig listed her previous accomplishments as:

  • Trustee, Contra Costa County Board of Education

  • Cofounder and Nonprofit Administrator – Antioch Music Foundation

  • Advisory Board Member – Fil-Am Society of St. Ignatius

  • Past Member – Contra Costa County Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Council

  • Past Chief Shop Steward – AFSCME Local 2700

  • Past Member – Conciliation Forums of Oakland

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Antioch School Board candidates provide details of their backgrounds, views, goals

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

By John Crowder

Four candidates are vying for two seats on the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) board. They are, incumbents Gary Hack and Joy Motts, and challengers Walter Ruehlig and Debra Vinson. Each candidate provided the Herald with answers to questions in which they outlined their backgrounds, experience, positions on the issues, and what they consider the most important topics in the current election.

Career History

Gary Alan Hack said that he was employed by AUSD from 1969-2010 as a certificated employee. Up until 2000, he was an elementary school classroom teacher, working at Sutter Elementary School. From 2000 to 2010, he was President of the Antioch Education Association. From 2010 to the present, he has served on the AUSD board.

Hack also owned an independent business, Hack’s Painting, from 1977 to 2000.

Joyann E. “Joy” Motts said that she has been President of the AUSD board for the last two years, and that she has been serving on the board since 2010. She is also on the California School Boards Association Linked Learning Task Force.

Motts has also been a Senior Mortgage Consultant with Delta Lending Group, and on the Board of Directors for the Celebrate Antioch Foundation. She has served as a member of the Suburban Poverty Task Force, representing Antioch.

Motts also said that she is on the California School Boards Association LCFF Collaborative Team representing AUSD (one of only 15 school districts in the state chosen to participate).

Walter Kenneth Ruehlig said that he has had a 46-year career that revolved around education. In 1968, he taught English as a Foreign Language for the Peace Corps in a Turkish village that had no electricity. Upon returning to the states, he taught ESL, Adult Basic Education, and GED for the City University of New York, Boston School Department, and Polaroid Land Corporation.

For the last 16 years he has worked for the Pittsburg Adult Education Center teaching career development classes and counseling adults with disabilities seeking reentry into the workplace.

Ruehlig said that he was also an admissions counselor at Control Data Institute, Dickinson Warren Business College and Unilex College and was a job developer in private industry.

Ruehlig was on the AUSD school board from 2004 until 2012.

Ruehlig has also owned a dry cleaning business, taught speed reading for Evelyn Woods Reading Dynamics, and operated his own resume writing business.

Debra Vinson said that she has worked as a Clinician in the mental health field in several capacities and for different organizations all over the Bay Area. Some of her work highlights include:

  • Behavior Consultant

  • School-based Therapist

  • Day Treatment Therapist (children)

  • Clinical Case Manager and Mental Health Clinical Specialist with a focus on children and families, adults and community mental health services

  • Adjunct Professor

  • Trained facilitator in Violence Prevention and Response Strategies and Implementation

Education History

Hack attended UC Davis from 1964-1968, graduating with a BA in History. From 1968-1969 he was enrolled in a M. Ed. Program in Educational Psychology. He received his permanent teaching credential through the state of California in 1970. In 1979 he received an M. Ed. In Curriculum and Instruction from the University of San Francisco. From 1979 through 2000 he obtained approximately 120 semester post-graduate units in Education.

Motts attended Los Medanos Junior College and Sacramento State University, studying Business Administration and Criminal Justice.

Ruehlig graduated cum laude as an English major from the State University of New York at Albany, School of Education. He graduated from Rutgers University John Heldrich Center for Workplace Development with a certificate as a Global Career Facilitator.

Vinson has an AA in Computer Operations from Computer Learning Center, a BA in Business Administration from Greenville College with a minor in Psychology, and a MA in Counseling from JFK University.

Why Running?

Hack said, “As a long time resident of Antioch, I understand that our public schools are an asset to our community. When I retired from the AUSD, I knew that I wanted to continue serving the students in the AUSD. Being elected to the AUSD school board allowed me to do so. I’m running for a 2nd term because I still have the passion to make a difference in the lives of our young people.”

Hack continued, “The educational landscape in Antioch has changed. That’s not a negative statement; nor is it a positive one. It’s simply a statement of reality. It is what it is. As a result, the school board is even more important than perhaps at times in the past. Over the past 4 years, the board, which I have been part of, has had to consider options, solve problems, plan strategies, make decision, be transparent, increase community involvement and communicate in new and different ways. We have done that and I look forward to continuing and enhancing those processes. It requires a tremendous commitment of time and energy – both physically and mentally. Great responsibility; awesome opportunity. I look forward to it…yet again.”

Motts said, “As a lifelong resident of Antioch, and a committed and passionate community leader, I know that Antioch students deserve the very best in education and I am dedicated to leading our schools to that goal.”

Ruehlig said, “I am running because I am greatly pained at the downward spiraling of the AUSD.” He went on to compare the state of the schools when he left the board two years ago, to where they are today. He said that a $31 million surplus had dwindled to only $5 million, the state-mandated minimum.

Out-of-control students run rampant on many of our campuses, with daily reports of disruption and violence, including teacher assaults,” Ruehlig continued. He noted there had been several parental lawsuits, including an $8 million settlement for the physical and verbal abuse and alleged cover-up involving eight autistic students, ranging in age from five to seven.

Ruehlig said AUSD, “spent vast amounts of good will, time, and money fighting Dozier-Libbey Medical High School teachers wanting to bolt the District. It should have never gotten to that point.”

Ruehlig also expressed concern with the academic performance of the district, saying that STAR tests scores, on average, are ten points below the state rankings in reading, math, and science, and that “Ed-Trust gave us a D on their last report card.”

As a District, we can’t be victims anymore, just blaming the “changing landscape,” Ruehlig said. “We need a plan and then accountability, transparency, and common sense. We can do much better for our kids.”

Vinson said she is running, “because I know that I can make a difference and work with the families to do the following:

  • Improve educational outcomes for ALL students

  • Bring focused leadership to AUSD to support the teachers and students

  • Work with the community so they will know that their concerns about the education of Antioch’s students are being heard by AUSD and acted upon.”

Top Priorities

Hack listed his top priorities as:

  • Successfully implement LCFF and LCAP

  • Maintain the fiscal solvency of the District

  • Enhance the academic integrity of the AUSD

  • Increase the number of elective class options for both secondary and elementary schools

  • Continue to make our district exemplary in the education, safety and support of our students

Motts listed her top priorities as:

  • Schools that are safe and promote a culture of positive behavior and academic achievement

  • Keeping our students in school, engaged and on pathways for success in college, career and life

  • Provide early and consistent intervention strategies and programs that will support our high needs students’ academic success

  • Successful implementation and integration of LCAP (local control accountability plan) and LCFF (local control funding formula), involving community and stakeholders through full implementation

Ruehlig listed his top priorities as:

  • Bring safety, respect, order and a conducive teaching/learning environment back to all our campuses

  • Increase the number of guidance counselors to offer academic and social direction and interventions

  • Expand on-going tutoring and the summer booster programs for incoming freshmen with particular attention to closing the achievement gap

  • Stop the three-year deficit spending habit and reverse the fiscal slide

  • Continue stressing choice, as one-size doesn’t fit all. The career-themed academies are a boon that have proved immensely enriching. We can’t exclude home schooling, digital learning, independent study, charter schools, etc., as viable alternatives that deserve a seat at the table.

  • Establish a more professional distance so that the Board does not fall prey to the “Club” syndrome where people are so buddy they feel reticent about asking tough questions, occasionally poking, prodding staff and stirring the pot

  • Increase parental involvement through televised meetings and more accessibility by rotating meeting locations in the community; more welcoming atmosphere of parental volunteers, bilingual office aides, expansion of the PIQUE program (Parental Involvement in Quality Education), more school sponsored workshops on topics like anti-bullying, gang prevention, tutoring, School Loop, navigating college admission, etc.

  • Accentuate accountability with a standardized, simple, user-friendly annual report card that details progress or regression in graduation rates, U-C qualified, CAHSEE passing, STAR or other state-wide testing scores, college admissions, SAT scores, truancy, and violent acts

Vinson listed her top priorities as:

  • Safety concerns at school and in the community

  • Fiscal accountability

  • Parent engagement

Previous Accomplishments

Hack said that his previous accomplishments include his “ongoing commitment (45 years) to the youth of Antioch in both public and private avenues (with all that involves)…thereby making a difference in their lives.” He also said that he has been an ordained deacon at St. Ignatius of Antioch, has been involved in both adult and youth education, and has been involved with multiple community programs.

Motts said, “During the last four years, I have worked to improve education at all levels with early intervention programs, increased counseling, Linked Learning Academies and through openness to innovation and new ideas.”

She continued, “The economic recession was a very difficult time for public education. Many school districts were forced to lay off employees, institute furlough days, cut programs and counselors and shorten the school year. I am proud to say Antioch Unified did not have to make those tough choices. Through diligent planning and budgeting we established a significant reserve that allowed us to make it through these tough financial times without making those types of cuts that would have dramatically affected our students. Thanks to Proposition 30, the voters of California and a legislature that is determined to equitably fund public education, revenue for our schools is improving and in Antioch, graduation rates are increasing and CAHSEE pass rates are improving. Our projection for next year and beyond is that AUSD revenues will meet expenditures and we will continue to be fiscally solvent, will maintain sufficient reserves and will continue to build our capacity to provide academic excellence for all of our students.”

Motts also listed other significant achievements she said she was, “proud to have supported in the last 4 years and will continue to build upon.” These included the installation of solar panels on 20 of 24 school sites, that she said would save AUSD $47 million over the next 30 years, and energy savings programs that would lessen our carbon footprint and lower energy expenses. Other programs include the full implementation of Linked Learning Academies, Lead the Way, and STEM.

Motts also mentioned, “Supporting the full intention of the new Local Control Accountability Plan that will bring our parents and community members to the table in determining policy and programs that will best serve the students of our community.” Other achievements she touted were transitional programs to provide intense support for “our most at risk youth, updating our infrastructure to meet the 21st [century] needs of students in technology and curriculum,” and “continuing the employment of additional security to support the safety of our schools until such time the City of Antioch resources are at full restoration,” and the passage of Measure B to rebuild Antioch High School.

Ruehlig said that his accomplishments included serving two terms on the AUSD board (2004-2012) and included his being a two-time president of the board, 2012 Antioch Citizen of the Year (Lifetime Achievement), 2004 County Board of Supervisors Humanitarian of the Year Award, 2004 Columbian Squire California Counselor of the Year, Former Chairman of both the CCC Human Relations Commission and Library Commission, a Founder of the Antioch Music Foundation, Former President of the Mello Roos Board, and a member of the Celebrate Antioch Foundation (involved with bringing the 4th of July parade back to Rivertown four years ago.)

Ruehlig’s accomplishments while serving on the AUSD board included:

  • Bringing back guidance counselors and elementary instrumental music program

  • Taking District off Fiscal County Watch list in first year on Board and building rainy day fund (ending fund balance) to $31 million

  • Instituting an innovative k-8 school (Orchard Park)

  • Encouraging school choice by opening five career-themed academies and the second and third Antioch-based charter schools

  • Introducing school uniforms district-wide to elementary and middle schools

  • Overseeing dropout rate fall from 27% to 19%

  • API increase in seven of eight years from 702 to 742

Vinson said her previous accomplishments include serving as:

  • California State Appointed Advocate

  • Volunteer in Probation

  • Youth Intervention Network Family Mediator

  • Antioch Site Council

  • PTA Member

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Antioch student at Washington State makes President’s Honor Roll for Summer 2014

Sunday, October 19th, 2014
Kristoff Williams Antioch student at Washington State makes Presidents Honor Roll for Summer 2014

Kristoff Williams, courtesy of WSU Athletics

PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University has announced that Kristoff Isiah Williams of Antioch has, once again, made the President’s Honor Roll, this time for the 2014 Summer semester.

The President’s Honor Roll recognizes students who stand above the rest with excellent academic performance. To be eligible for the honor roll, undergraduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of nine graded hours in a single term at WSU and earn a grade point average of 3.75 or earn a 3.50 cumulative GPA based on 15 cumulative hours of graded work.

A criminal justice major in his senior year, Williams is a 2010 graduate of Deer Valley High School, where he was a four-year scholar athlete and a National Football League Hall of Fame Scholar Athlete, as quarterback for the Wolverines. He now plays wide receiver for the WSU Cougars football team. Williams is the son of Daniel and Corlette Williams.

For more information on Kristoff Williams, click here or here.

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