Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

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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Antioch School Board to consider two charter schools at Wednesday meeting

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

By Allen Payton

Applications for two new charter schools will be considered by the Antioch School Board at their meeting on Wednesday night. A middle school and high school are being proposed for Antioch by the organizers of the Clayton Valley High Charter School in Concord.

If approved, both the East Bay Tech Academy Antioch Middle School Charter School for 6th through 8th grades and the High School Charter School for 9th through 12th grades, plan to open in Fall 2019 at a temporary location and build their own schools on the same campus by the start of the 2020-21 school year.

The lead petitioner is Megan Moilanen, who is the current Director of Guidance and Assessment at Clayton Valley Charter High School. According to the East Bay Tech Academy website, she is “an experienced school administrator with a demonstrated history of working in independent, public and charter schools.” The co-petitioner is former AUSD Assistant Superintendent Bill Morones who has “over 30 years in education” and “has served in numerous teaching and leadership roles in public schools across the Bay Area.”

Also, according to their website, “The mission of East Bay Tech Academy is to equip every student to be college and career ready in the 21st century world. This is achieved through individualized student-centered instruction that focuses on rigor, relevance and relationships with a technology emphasis. Moreover, East Bay Tech students will develop resilient character, strong critical thinking, and collaborative skills that will prepare them for their futures.”

Their Vision and Model states, “East Bay Tech seeks to prepare its students to achieve their post-secondary goals with an emphasis on college and career readiness…equipped with 21st century skills. East Bay Tech also aspires to serve as a research and development model for the District and other public schools.”

According to the agenda, the public hearings are for information only and the determination of whether the Board will approve or deny the charter petition will be agendized for action at the May 9, 2018, meeting unless that decision date is extended by mutual agreement of the parties.

If the school board votes for the petitions, the organizers can move forward on preparing to open the schools. If they vote against the petitions, the organizers can appeal to the County Board of Education. If denied there, the petitioners can appeal to the State Board of Education, on which former Antioch teacher and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson sits, and which has been favorable toward charter schools.

These schools, if approved, will be the second and third charter schools to locate in Antioch, following the approval of the Rocketship Charter School in 2016 which will open this fall.

Public hearings for each school petition are on the agenda under Items 9.A. and B. The  meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. in the District Office Board Room at 510 G Street or can be viewed live on the District’s YouTube page.

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Antioch, Pittsburg residents earn degrees from Western Governors University

Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY (Grassroots Newswire) March 2, 2018 – The following local students have received their degree from Western Governors University (WGU). The university held its 64th commencement ceremony at the Disney Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando on February 10th to celebrate the graduation of about 15,000 graduates from across the country.

  • David Huntley of Antioch has received his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management.
  • Kenneth Caraan of Antioch has received his Master of Science degree in Nursing – Leadership and Management (BSN to MSN).
  • Oanh Vu of Pittsburg has received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing,

At commencement, the online, nonprofit university recognized 8,839 undergraduates and 6,117 graduates who have completed their degrees in business, information technology, K-12 teacher education, and healthcare, including nursing. More than 1,100 new alumni participating in the ceremony. Graduates who were not able to attend the ceremony were able to watch the event via live video stream on WGU’s website.

Thirty-nine percent of this year’s graduates represent the first generation in their family to complete college. The average time to graduation for bachelor’s degrees was two years, three months. The average time to graduation for graduate programs was one year, seven months.

Designed to meet the needs of working adults, WGU’s competency-based education model makes it possible for students to fit studying into their busy lives. Students complete courses as soon as they demonstrate that they have mastered the subject matter, enabling them to move quickly through material they already know and spend more time on focusing on what they still need to learn. As a result, many students are able to accelerate their studies, finishing faster and saving money.

About WGU

Established in 1997 by 19 U.S. governors with a mission to expand access to high-quality, affordable higher education, online, nonprofit WGU now serves 94,000 students nationwide and has 101,000 graduates in all 50 states. Driving innovation as the nation’s leading competency-based university, WGU has been recognized by the White House, state leaders, employers, and students as a model that works in postsecondary education. In just 21 years, the university has become a leading influence in changing the lives of individuals and families, and preparing the workforce needed in today’s rapidly evolving economy. WGU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, has been named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, and was featured on NPR, NBC Nightly News, CNN, and in The New York Times. Learn more at

Follow WGU:






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For enrollment information contact: 866-225-5948 or

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Antioch Unified to hold Teacher Recruiting Fair Saturday, March 24

Friday, March 2nd, 2018

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Tickets still available for Delta Blues Benefit Concert in Antioch this Saturday, March 3

Monday, February 26th, 2018

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Los Medanos College seeks nominations for awards celebrating life of César Chávez

Sunday, February 11th, 2018

Los Medanos College (LMC) is preparing to host its annual “César Chávez Celebration” on Thursday, March 22, from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. in the college’s Recital Hall [Reception at 6:00 p.m., Awards & Recognition Ceremony at 7:00 p.m.].  LMC is located at 2700 East Leland Road in Pittsburg.  The public is welcome to attend the free event.

Los Medanos College hosts this event each year to honor the life of César Chávez and to recognize East Contra Costa County community leaders who continue his great tradition of service and social activism. A true American hero, César Chávez exemplifies service to community and non-violent social change.

The college is now seeking nominations for three recognition awards, which will be presented at the event.  The LMC César Chávez Award for Exemplary Community Service, established in 1995, is awarded to local residents who have demonstrated a long-standing commitment to service and who represent the core values established by César Chávez: Service to Others, Sacrifice, Help the Most Needy, Determination, Non-Violence, Acceptance of All People, Respect for Life and the Environment, Celebrating Community, Knowledge, and Innovation.  The East County Educator Award honors members of the educational community who demonstrate the above values and a commitment to student success and equity, particularly for low-income students and students of color.  The Chávez Spirit Award recognizes emerging/student leaders who are making an impact on East Contra Costa County in the areas of advocacy and social justice.

To submit nominations for the César Chávez awards, visit:  The deadline for nominations is Wednesday, February 28, 2018.

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

Los Medanos College (LMC), one of three colleges in the Contra Costa Community College District, has served the East Contra Costa County community since 1974. LMC offers award-winning transfer and career-technical programs, high-quality support services, and diverse academic opportunities in an engaging and inclusive learning environment. With exceptional educators, innovative curriculum, growing degree and certificate offerings, strong regional partnerships, and state-of-the-art facilities, the College prepares students to succeed in their educational pursuits, in the workforce, and beyond. LMC’s Pittsburg Campus is located on 120 acres near the Antioch border, with an additional education center in Brentwood.

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