Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Eugene Huff selected as CC Community College District interim chancellor

Monday, January 27th, 2020

Eugene Huff. By CCCCD.

By Timothy Leong, Public Information Officer, CCCC College District

The Contra Costa Community College District (District) Governing Board (Board) has selected Eugene Huff as interim chancellor. Huff’s contract begins January 23, 2020, with an end date of December 31, 2020, or until a permanent chancellor is selected.

Huff began his service with the District in 2001 in human resources.  He was promoted to Vice Chancellor of Human Resources in 2004 and has been the District’s chief negotiator since that time.  He was promoted to his current position of Executive Vice Chancellor, Administrative Services in 2013. In that position, Huff has overseen fiscal services, human resources, information technology, police services and risk management areas.

Before coming to the District, Huff spent over a decade in the private sector in human resources and operations management roles, and led the start-up of the human resources function for a non-profit organization. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Psychology and his master’s degree in Human Resources Management from Purdue University.

“The Governing Board is excited and grateful that Gene has agreed to serve as our Interim Chancellor,” said Board President Rebecca Barrett. “His many years of steady administrative leadership in the District has prepared him for this opportunity, and we are confident the District will be in good hands until a permanent chancellor is on board.”

The District continues its national search for a permanent chancellor and is assisted by the Collaborative Brain Trust (CBT) and Dr. Brice Harris, a longtime California community college educator and Chancellor Emeritus of the California Community Colleges. Huff will not be a candidate for permanent chancellor. The goal will be to complete the search process and announce the new chancellor in April 2020, with a start date of June 1-July 1, 2020.

Prior to joining the District, Mr. Huff worked at Whirlpool Corporation for 11 years in operations and human resources. Mr. Huff is married and has one grown daughter and one granddaughter. He enjoys diving, gardening and travel.

The Contra Costa Community College District (CCCCD) is one of the largest multi-college community college districts in California. The CCCCD serves a population of 1,019,640 people, and its boundaries encompass all but 48 of the 734-square-mile land area of Contra Costa County. The District is home to Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, as well as educational centers in Brentwood and San Ramon.  The District headquarters is located in downtown Martinez.

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Antioch School Board approves sale of $10.75 million in bonds to improve district’s older schools

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

Approves Human Trafficking Awareness Month resolution for January, and other recognition days, weeks and months including LGBTQ PRide Month for June

By Allen Payton

At their meeting on Wednesday night, the Antioch School Board trustees unanimously approved the sale of $10,750,000 in bonds for improvements to schools most of which are located in the older parts of town. The funds are remaining from a total of $61.6 million in bonds included in the district’s Measure C vote approved by Antioch voters in June 2008. The vote also formed School Facilities Improvement District No. 1. (See details, here: Resolution 2019-20-31 SFID No. 1 General Obligation Bonds)

According to the district’s website, the schools included in SFID-1 and the year they were built are as follows:

Elementary Schools – Belshaw, 1954; Fremont, 1953; Kimball, 1950; Marsh, 1947; Mission, 1973; Muir, 1990; Sutter, 1964; and Tuner, 1968.

Middle Schools – Antioch, 1964 and Park Middle School, 1959.

High Schools – Antioch High School, 1954; Bidwell Continuation, 1958; Live Oak, 1978; and Prospects, 1992.

According to the staff report, “The District desires to initiate proceedings for the issuance of bonds with respect to its School Facilities Improvement District No. 01. A new bond series will be issued to finance additional voter-approved capital projects in the District pursuant to the authority of Measure C.

The resolution authorizes the bonds to be issued as traditional, tax-exempt general obligation bonds pursuant to provisions of State law. The bonds will be payable from the levy and collection of ad valorem property taxes on SFID No. 1 properties. The bonds are authorized to be issued as current interest bonds only. Capital appreciation bonds are not authorized.”

Dave Olson of Backstrom, McCarley, Berry & Company gave a presentation on the bond sale. AUSD 1.22.20 Sale of Series E Bonds Presentation

“There are two sides to a bond. There’s the proceeds and the repayment,” he said. “The revenue is going to come in over the first 8 to 10 years and then the payments will last 30 years.”

“The annual property tax will be $60 per $100,000 in value,” Olson stated “This is only going to be another $10 million which will help.” The funds are in addition to the $56.5 million in bonds from Measure B passed by voters in November 2012 for improvements to Antioch High School, and Measure T, the $105 million bond on this year’s March 3rd ballot. (See related article)

Recognition of Special Days, Weeks and Months

The board also approved a resolution recognizing January as Human Trafficking Awareness month, and a variety of recognition days, weeks and months, including African American History, National School Counseling Week, Music in Our Schools Month, National Women’s History Month, Read Across America Day, Cesar Chavez Day of Service and Learning, Autism Awareness Month, National Bilingual/Multilingual Learner Advocacy Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, LGBTQ Pride Month, and Fund Education Now Week. AUSD Resolution – Human Trafficking

Trustee Ellie Householder asked about the LGBTQ Month recognition.

“Why is this coming before us, now?” she asked. “Isn’t this for June?”

“The board wanted to bring this in a timely manner,” said Superintendent Stephanie Anello. “So, we’re bringing half of them, now and half of them later.”

All of the items passed on unanimous votes.

“I just want to let you all know we are all five going to sign proclamations,” Board President Diane Gibson-Gray stated.

Dallas Ranch Middle School Parent Liaison

In other matters, on a 4-1 split vote the board approved a contract between Dallas Ranch Middle School and parent Velma Wilson, who has been a volunteer in Antioch schools. She regularly attends board meetings and has been a vocal critic of both former Antioch School Board trustee Debra Vinson and current trustee Crystal Sawyer-White, who removed the agenda item from the consent calendar.

Wilson will act as a parent liaison to increase parental engagement at Dallas Ranch Middle School. She will work with site administration to foster greater parental involvement so staff can work collaboratively with parents and students to improve student achievement. The scope of work includes forming parent connections with the school, being present during school events and functions, supporting the school’s social media sites, organizing parent town hall meetings and providing information about school and district resources.

“I compared similar positions with other districts,” Sawyer-White said Will there be any kind of data report? It also says cohesiveness with teachers and families. I think that should be with the board.”

“Absolutely,” responded Bridget Spires, principal of Dallas Ranch Middle School. “Every family we work with, we are keeping a comprehensive view of each student. We’re also going to have her update our Facebook. When we have events at the school, she’s there taking photos. She’s documenting some things that are specific to our school.

The funds are being spent out of the school site’s LCAP funds, Anello explained.

“I’m almost embarrassed to say we were only able to offer her $4,000 for this particular role,” said Spires. “She’s been volunteering at our site for several years.”

“I don’t question what you’re doing, I’m really happy what you’re doing,” Trustee Mary Rocha said. “It doesn’t just happen if you open the door and say, ‘come in’. Not all schools can afford this. But this is a start.”

Velma Wilson then spoke on the matter, blasting Sawyer-White.

“I really do want to address…because Crystal brought up cohesiveness on our school sites,” she said. “How many parents are really coming to our school board meetings? None. This really isn’t about you. I have invited you on a variety of occasions. I’m at every last school site doing a lot of work. Mary Rocha has been a proud supporter. I’m bilingual. I make the effort…to address them the way they feel comfortable. This isn’t about cohesiveness with you. All the other school board trustees I have a good relationship with. One day you’ll get it. One day you’ll understand this is about the schools. It ain’t about the money, to me. It’s about the work and it’s about the lives of these students. I break my back to try to do what I can for these kids, and they don’t even belong to me. So, it ain’t about you Crystal. It’s about these kids.”

“I’m going based on comments from parents. It’s not about me,” Sawyer-White responded. “I do have a son in special education. Other parents are asking me, can we all just work together. Not attend board meetings where someone is coming at someone else negatively. I just had some questions about this position. But, if you’re going to be friendly with the parents, let’s all get along. It’s a new year. I just believe that we should all be able to get along as a whole.”

The board approved the item on a 4-1 vote, with Sawyer-White voting against.

Copies of this school board agenda and its attachments are located on the Internet at www.antiochschools.net. Click on http://www.boarddocs.com/ca/ausd/Board.nsf/Public. To watch the entire school board meeting visit their YouTube page.

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Travis Credit Union announces 2020 college scholarship program for graduating high school seniors

Saturday, January 18th, 2020

VACAVILLE, CA –  Travis Credit Union announced it will award twenty $2,000 scholarships to current high school seniors bound for college in the fall of 2020. This year marks the 17th year of the scholarship program by the Vacaville-based credit union. Since the scholarship was established in 2004, the credit union has awarded more than $397,000 in scholarships.

The credit union encourages all graduating seniors to apply. Each applicant must be a high school senior with a GPA of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale), bound for a two–or four–year college or university and a member of Travis Credit Union in good standing. Students who live in Travis Credit Union’s twelve-county service region and are not yet members may join the credit union and apply for a scholarship at the same time.

“Credit unions were founded on the philosophy of people helping people,” says Barry Nelson, Travis Credit Union’s president and CEO. “Offering scholarships to deserving high school seniors is just one way we assist our young members with the rising cost of high education, while reinforcing our commitment to the financial success of our country’s future leaders.”

The Travis Credit Union Board of Directors established the scholarship program in 2004. The program honors the late Mary Keith Duff, who passed away in 2004. Duff was the first woman to serve on the Travis Credit Union Board of Directors.

The 2020 scholarship application is now available online at traviscu.org/scholarship or at any Travis Credit Union branch location. Completed applications must be received at the credit union by the close of business of Monday, March 2, 2020. In addition to a completed application, applicants must submit a 250-word personal statement, a certified high school transcript and a letter of reference from a teacher. The scholarships will be awarded in mid-June by the credit union.
“In the last 17 years, we have received a tremendous response from young members who have exhibited a commitment to academic excellence and community service. We look forward to recognizing even more of our deserving young members this year,” adds Nelson.

Headquartered in Vacaville, California, Travis Credit Union is a not-for-profit cooperative financial institution serving those who live or work in Alameda, Colusa, Contra Costa, Merced Napa, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, and Yolo Counties. Currently, Travis Credit Union is the 13th largest credit union in California with more than 214,000 members and more than $3.2 billion in assets. As one of the leading financial institutions in Solano, Contra Costa, Napa, Yolo and Merced Counties, Travis Credit Union’s strength lies in its faithful commitment to its members and the community; its solid, secure history; and its long-standing track record of dedicated service.

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Antioch Middle School principal Lopez-Wiseley named administrators association’s Principal of the Year

Friday, January 17th, 2020

Antioch Middle School principal Lindsay Lopez-Wisely (with lanyard) with some of her students. Photo by AUSD.

By Antioch Unified School District

Just as she’d spent years as an athlete keeping an eye on the ball, Lindsay Lopez-Wisely knew what she wanted to do right out of college. Four years ago, that sense of direction led her to Antioch Middle School, where she has won an award from the Association of California School Administrators for excelling among secondary principals.

A product of Antioch Unified, the Deer Valley High graduate competed in basketball, tennis and track — so well that newspaper clippings of her athletic prowess decorate her office walls.
Lopez-Wisely received a full-ride basketball scholarship to St. Mary’s College, earning a degree in physical education with an emphasis on teaching.

She landed her first job at DVHS in 2004, followed by a teaching stint and then a role as vice principal at Antioch High, where she also won accolades from the ACSA.

Additionally, she developed relationships with community leaders and groups, connections that proved useful when Lopez-Wisely assumed the helm at AMS, receiving generous donations and hosting fundraisers to help with extracurricular activities.

Right out of the gate, Lopez-Wisely instituted instrumental music and choir and helped fill the library with a bundle of new books. Since then, she’s also added on-going school dances and family events, a specialty dance class, a Manhood Development curriculum, and a wellness room to give struggling students a place to get re-centered.

One of her biggest goals was to revive middle school athletics – a full program for all AUSD middle schools, including AMS, Black Diamond, Dallas Ranch, Park and Orchard. The middle-schoolers get a chance to learn a variety of games – from football to basketball to soccer – and the benefits of being on a team and a team player.

Lopez-Wisely thinks one of the reasons she received the award was for her efforts to make AMS a “restorative campus,” a place where students and parents feel welcome and cultivating good relationships is a priority. Teachers are trained how to conduct classroom activities to help young people get to know each other better, which in turn makes them more willing to participate in class discussions and improves teamwork.

In addition, a full-time restorative teacher mediates conflicts between students and leads meetings with students, parents and teachers.

Lopez-Wisely has now moved on to the ACSA state award level, along with Superintendent Stephanie Anello.

Outside the job, Lopez-Wisely somehow finds the energy for 5:30 a.m. workouts with her husband several times a week. The couple also coach their 8- and 12-year-old children; she takes the lead in basketball and he mentors their son in softball and football. #WeAreAUSD

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Opinion: Antioch schools trustee claims racism behind recent board president vote

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

Ellie Householder by AUSD.

By Ellie Householder, Member, Antioch Unified School District Board of Education

Many have asked me why, when I was nominated to become the vice president of the Antioch Unified School District Board of Education, I did not accept the nomination. To put it simply, I found the process of selecting the Board’s leadership to be deeply problematic — and racist.

We have 4,193 African American students in our school district and not a single African American has ever served as board president. On its surface, this may seem like a benign coincidence. It’s not.

It’s intentional.

At the December 11, 2019 AUSD Board meeting, Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White–an African American who has served on the board since 2016, who was the top vote-getter in that year’s election, and who holds multiple degrees–was denied the board presidency for the second time. It was the third time an African American was denied this position in recent memory, which reveals a troublesome pattern.

The school board’s leadership changes every year. For context, the person who becomes the president has historically been a non-issue, because it simply happened on a rotating basis. For years, that’s how the Antioch school board worked. That is, until Black women started getting elected as trustees.

Although the position of board president is more ceremonial than anything, the three times an African American trustee was up for the board presidency seat, their “qualifications” and “demeanor” were called into question. As many scholars have documented, such statements are often, forms of racial microaggressions that send the message that “people of color are lazy” and “are incompetent and need to work harder.”

Some may argue that this decision “wasn’t racist” because they don’t view the trustees who voted for this as racist. This argument misunderstands what the problem is – institutionalized bias against people of color. Whether or not the trustees involved “are racist” isn’t the point. The point is that the use of coded language marginalizes African Americans and holds them to a standard that their white counterparts are not held to, which is racist. This double standard is revealing of an educational system which for decades has been unfair to African Americans.

After Trustee Sawyer-White was denied the board president position, I was nominated for vice president. I chose to abstain from the vote because I did not think it was right to vote for myself. At the time, I stated I was uncomfortable. To be honest, uncomfortable puts it mildly.

This marked the second time I had witnessed what I can only deem a corrupt process. A process that has a faint veneer of objectivity, when it is clearly anything but. I had seen the exact same thing happen to Trustee Sawyer-White last year when she was denied the role of president after serving for a year as vice president. So, I took issue with participating in a process I saw as unfair.

That is what I meant when I said I was uncomfortable. I’m uncomfortable that some of my colleagues refuse to talk about race. I’m uncomfortable when my colleagues hijack a political process that is meant to serve our youth and instead use it to serve their own interests. This should make many of you feel uncomfortable as well.

As we enter a new decade, I urge my fellow residents to take note of the decisions made by your local representatives and to listen closely to the reasoning behind their votes. Sadly, some of us who are sworn to serve the public make decisions that are far from the best interest of the community. When that happens, we need to have the courage to call it like it is.

With another election approaching, my hope is that we, as a community, can stand together and hold our elected officials accountable. It is through courage, fairness, and honesty that I believe we can begin to move forward as a city and create a school system that is truly stronger and better, for all our students, regardless of their skin tone.

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Park Middle School’s Kai Montgomery named administrators association’s Vice Principal of the Year

Saturday, January 11th, 2020

Kai Montgomery Vice Principal of Park Middle School. Photo: AUSD

By AUSD

She had wanted to be a teacher all her life, so Kai Montgomery went after the credential … and then another … and finally a graduate degree. But after those qualifications helped her land a couple of jobs in Antioch Unified’s District Office, Montgomery realized something was missing amid all the paperwork and policy making: The children.

These days the former instructor is back on campus, for the past four years as a vice principal at Park Middle School where she has won recognition from the Association of California School Administrators.

“I really missed being with students because of the individual conversations,” she said.

Montgomery moved around a lot as a child but even though she had attended 10 schools by her senior year, the environment offered a comforting routine in her ever-changing world. “School can be a solace for you when there’s a lot of other things going on,” she said.

Now she’s trying to foster the same caring environment, which makes it easier for young people to learn, Montgomery said. It’s a goal she always carries with her: Tattooed on the inside of her wrists are the words “empathy” and “kindness.”

Children must have their emotional needs met — to be understood, for example, or know how to cope with anxiety — before they can tackle academics, Montgomery said.

To that end she assembled teachers, a special education instructor, a psychologist, therapists and academic counselors last year. Some are Park Middle School employees, others are from outside agencies, but they all work together on behalf of the students who are referred to them for behavior or academic problems.

CARE, as the group is known, meets twice a month to map out ways of getting youngsters back on track. The practical help ranges from putting low-income families in touch with organizations that provide food, clothes or other necessities to arranging for a kid who’s having trouble managing anger to work out that aggression at a boxing center.

In addition, Montgomery is establishing the so-called “restorative” approach of moderating conversations between students who have caused trouble and the classmates or teachers they have hurt so each can share his or her point of view, come to a mutual understanding and repair the relationship.

She also is planning to train teachers how to diffuse conflict in their own classroom using these practices. Montgomery readily acknowledges the difficulty of continuing to pursue help for students when previous efforts have failed. “You just don’t give up,” she said.

And the best part of the job is when that persistence pays off.

“You try five different things and the sixth works. You feel great!” Montgomery said.

Montgomery is the married mom of a 17-year-old daughter and 21-year-old stepson.

She is also a travel bug who goes “anywhere I can have good food.” Dreams of sampling culinary delights have taken her on cross-country road trips in the U.S. as well as a month’s trip to Europe and, most recently, a week-long cruise to Mexico. Next stop? Bangkok, Thailand’s on the short list!

#WeAreAUSD

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Delta Blues Festival memorial scholarship application deadline Jan. 31

Thursday, January 9th, 2020

Delta Blues Festival 2019 scholarship winners. Courtesy DBF.

In 1999 an East Contra Costa County blues fan, David Williamson, had a dream. He wanted to create a family-friendly event called the Delta Blues Festival. He rallied three local blues bands together and put on the very first festival on October 23, that year.

The purpose of the #DeltaBluesFestival /#DaveWilliamsonMemorialScholarship is to allow the festival to do their part to help further the education of a graduate of an East Contra Costa County High School in their collegiate or vocational studies.

Each application will be anonymously discussed and reviewed by a group of DBF volunteers along with representatives of the #ElCampanilPreservationFoundation to decide the submission which best deserves the scholarship.

Criteria:
• Applicant must be an East Contra Costa resident.
Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, and Pittsburg
• Applicant must have a commitment to continue musical studies.
• Submit an unofficial transcript.
• Submit an essay which may include some or all of the following:
Their personal affiliation with the style of music they enjoy.
Note and explain their career choice and how they see music involved.
How music affects their life.
How they will benefit by pursuing an education including or devoted to music.
Submit any support and commitment to non-profits and/or volunteer organizations.
• Submit a link to a video recording (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) of applicant’s personal talent (playing an instrument, singing a song, or both). The song can be a cover of another artist or one can provide a copy of an original piece of music written by the applicant.

Click on this link to learn more and apply for this scholarship opportunity:
https://deltabluesfestival.net/scholarship

On behalf of the #DeltaBluesFestival Committee, #ElCampanilPreservationFoundation, and the Williamson family – we look forward towards hearing from you… good Luck!

“The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you. We all have idols. Play like anyone you care about but try to be yourself while you’re doing so” – B.B.King

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Contra Costa Community College District announces search for new chancellor

Saturday, December 21st, 2019

By Timothy Leong, Director of Communications and Community Relations, CCCCD

The Governing Board (Board) has officially begun the search for the next chancellor of the Contra Costa Community College District (District) following the retirement announcement of Dr. Fred Wood. The Board is committed to conducting an equitable, inclusive, and transparent national search that will attract a strong pool of outstanding candidates for this opportunity.

Assisting the District in the chancellor search is Collaborative Brain Trust and Dr. Brice Harris, a longtime California community college educator and Chancellor Emeritus of the California Community Colleges. The goal will be to complete the search process and announce the new chancellor in April 2020, with a start date of June 1-July 1, 2020.

For more details about this search, contact Dr. Brice Harris at harrisbrice@att.net or cell phone at 916-715-7272. Progress reports and updates will be posted on the District website at www.4cd.edu.

About the College District

The Contra Costa Community College District (CCCCD) is one of the largest multi-college community college districts in California. The CCCCD serves a population of 1,019,640 people, and its boundaries encompass all but 48 of the 734-square-mile land area of Contra Costa County. The District is home to Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, as well as educational centers in Brentwood and San Ramon.  Each college is individually accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. The District headquarters is located in downtown Martinez.

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