Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

John T. Nejedly, Contra Costa Community College Board Member and scion of political family, has died

Monday, October 10th, 2016
John T. Nejedly

John T. Nejedly

The Contra Costa Community College District (District) sadly announces the passing of Governing Board (Board) member John T. Nejedly this past weekend.  Mr. Nejedly represented Ward 4 which includes Blackhawk, Byron, Danville, Diablo, Discovery Bay, San Ramon, and parts of Alamo, Antioch, Brentwood, Clayton, and Concord.

“Our prayers and sympathies are with the Nejedly family and friends,” says Board President Vicki Gordon.  “Mr. Nejedly’s long tenure on the Board demonstrated his support of the community college mission.  He will be missed.”

Mr. Nejedly was first elected to the Board in 1994, and was serving his sixth consecutive term of office.  He is only the fourth member to represent this area since the District was created in 1948.

“We are saddened and shocked by his passing and will miss his consistent, rational approach to issues facing the District.  The success of our students was his top priority,” Chancellor Helen Benjamin said.

After graduating from Cal-Poly, San Luis Obispo, with a degree in Construction Management, Mr. Nejedly completed his education at John F. Kennedy University School of Law, where he received his law degree.  In addition to being a member of the California State Bar, he was a California licensed Real Estate Broker and licensed General Engineering Contractor.

The oldest son of the late State Senator John A. Nejedly, he was the brother of County Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho and Central Contra Costa Sanitary District Board Member James Nejedly.

He first ran for public office in 1992, but unsuccessfully for the Danville Town Council. He also ran for County Assessor in 2010, losing to incumbent Gus Kramer.

“Trustee Nejedly was the only Board member who worked on the passage of all three District bond campaigns, Measures A 2002 and 2006, and Measure E 2014,” said Board member John Márquez who has served on the Board with Mr. Nejedly for six years.  “His construction knowledge and experience provided a sound and critical voice as we modernized our campus facilities to improve the learning environment for students.”

A resident of San Ramon, Mr. Nejedly and his wife have three children and enjoyed spending time in the mountains and playing golf.

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Special education teacher in Antioch strives to bring “Safety Town” to her students and campus

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Along with so many national politicians these days, special education teacher (and non-politician) Jordan Rice is looking for many votes. But, as all political parties will agree, Rice’s campaign is certainly worthy of everyone’s votes, because her “platform” will empower the special-needs students at her Turner Elementary Special Education School, in Antioch.

Due to her creative vision and impressive application, Rice is now a finalist of the 2016 Farmer Insurance’s Dream Big Challenge, under the $100,000 grant category. Out of hundreds of applicants, her Safety Town project is now a finalist, along with 14 other nation-wide submissions. When all of the national votes are tabulated at the end of this month, six of the fifteen $100,000 projects will be funded.

About Safety Town:

“Safety Town is a different and creative way to motivate and engage students who have significant learning needs,” says Rice. Housed on the school’s campus, Safety Town will be a miniature town that will feature about eight small playhouses that the students and adults can enter inside. Each playhouse will be designed as a miniature bank, police station, fire station, school, grocery store, etc.  Safety Town reinforces concepts that begin in the classroom, by bringing them to life in a new relatable environment.  This setting closely resembles one that they will encounter in the real word and allows for easier generalization, or transition, of the skills learned in class. “For example, the grocery store will include learning objectives such as money concepts, answering wh- questions, sorting, colors, matching, and collaborative learning.”

For additional information about Rice’s project, please view this short video:

About the Election:

As of October 1, 2016, those who would like to vote for Safety Town coming to Turner School can now do so. Everyone who is 18-years or older can cast their vote once a day, from the same email address. The online votes can be made, through October 31, at

Remember, there are no district precincts in this national vote.

“Please vote for our Safety Town proposal, it will give our students the resources and skills they need to become meaningful and engaged active participants in our community,” Rice added.

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Motts shows strong lead in fundraising, spending in Antioch School Board race

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

She, Terry, Navarro are only candidates to raise or spend more than $2,000

By Allen Payton

Only two of the seven candidates in the Antioch School Board race filed financial campaign reports on time, for the latest period that ended Saturday, September 24th and were due on the 29th. Former school board member Joy Motts turned in her report to the County Elections Office on Monday, which shows she has raised and spent the most.

When asked about her report, Motts explained in an email on Tuesday, “460 was filed yesterday. I had a fundraiser last Monday so did not get all info to my Treasurer (Don Freitas) until Tuesday. He completed 460 late Friday and I drove it to Martinez yesterday.”

Her reports, including one from the semi-annual reporting period ending June 30th, show Motts started the year with $1,522.30 cash on hand and has raised a total of $6,593 this year. That gave her a total of $8,115.30 to spend on her campaign. To date Motts has spent $6,914.57 this year. Attempts to obtain her 2015 reports were unsuccessful as of publication time. Once that occurs we will know if there were any additional expenditures, last year.

Her largest contributions were $2,000 from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) 302, $1,000 from the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association Local No. 104, $503 from the Antioch Education Association, which is the local teachers’ union, $500 each from Delta Schools Political Action Committee, former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan and Republic Services, the garbage company for Antioch.

Besides her filing fee, Motts’ largest expenditures were $2,500 for her Walnut Creek-based campaign consultant Cliff Glickman, $500 for a Latino voters’ slate mailer to a southern California company, $436 on signs to Belleci Design in Pittsburg and $321 for a fundraiser at Southern Café in Antioch.

She had an ending cash balance of $1,200.73 for the latest reporting period.


Appointed incumbent Alonzo Terry raised $3,286 and spent $3,046.07 during the period and for his campaign. His largest contributions were $500 from himself and $250 each from Odessa Lefrancois and Trinity Tomsic. Besides his filing fee Terry had to reportable expenditures were $2,061.07 to Francisco Rojas in Sacramento for signs and $345 to The Print Club in Antioch.


The other appointed incumbent, Fernando Navarro raised $2,450 and spent $1,803 for his campaign. His largest contributions were $1,000 each from himself and Grow Elect, a Sacramento-based political action committee. Besides his filing fee Navarro’s largest expenditures were $700 for ads in the Herald and $400.58 for road signs from Fast Signs in Antioch. His forms show he filed the 497 form for contributions of $1,000 or more received after August 10th, before he received them. He actually spent the $1,000 out of his own pocket on August 11th, the day he filed his papers to become a candidate. Navarro said he would file amended forms showing that as a non-monetary contribution to his campaign and on the actual date it occurred.

Other Candidates

None of the other candidates, Mike Burkholder, Diane Gibson-Gray, Gary Hack, nor Crystal Sawyer-White, filed financial reports, because none of them has yet reached the $2,000 threshold in either campaign contributions or expenditures. Each of the five candidates were asked via email if that was because they haven’t yet raised or spent $2,000 in their campaign or if it is late, and if they plan on spending more than that amount in their campaign.

Sawyer-White responded with, “I filed a 410 on September 21, 2016. I have a small campaign team. I have been financing my campaign primarily on my own. I have only received $225.00 in donations thus far. I do not plan to go over $2,000. I plan to have a fundraiser event soon.”

Hack responded to the questions, with “I filed a Form 470 prior to the deadline – no committee and below $2,000.”

Burkholder’s treasurer Martha Parsons responded, stating he “did not file because he had not raised $2,000, yet. But, we have it now. We will be filing the next cycle.”

Gibson-Gray did not respond to the emailed questions.

See the financial reports for Motts, Terry and Navarro, below. To see all the documents and forms submitted by candidates in the school board race, click here.

The next filing period ends on October 22 and the second pre-election campaign finance reports are due on the 27th.

The election is Tuesday, November 8th.






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Register now for free 2017 youth conference on clean air

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Youth for Environment and Sustainability Conference to be held February 25 in San Francisco

The annual Youth for Environment and Sustainability, or YES, Conference, returns to the Bay Area at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 25, 2017, at the new Bay Area Metro Center at 375 Beale Street in San Francisco.

The free day-long regional conference will bring together middle and high school students from the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties to discuss topics ranging from climate change and public health to transportation and air pollution. The Bay Area Air Quality Management Districtand the Metropolitan Transportation Commission sponsor the annual conference.

“The YES Conference is an awesome regional gathering that jumpstarts student-led climate action in our schools and local communities,” said Noah Preute, a student from St. Vincent de Paul High School in Santa Rosa and a member of the student planning committee for the YES Conference. “I’m excited to help plan the conference and inform my generation on the serious consequences climate change and air pollution have on our lives and the planet.”

Registration for the event is now open at Teachers or youth development coordinators who register their studentsbefore October 30, 2016, will be entered into a drawing for a $250 grant for classroom youth leadership activities involving science, technology, engineering, art and math curriculum and sustainability.

A call for presentation proposals invites pioneering students, youth-leaders, teachers or youth advisors to present at the annual YES Conference. The deadline to submit a proposal is Wednesday, January 3, 2017. The online proposal submittal form is available now at

Attending students will have the opportunity to learn directly from their peers’ efforts by discussing advocacy, communication, leadership development and skill building. The program will include interactive presentations led by students and youth leaders from various schools and cities in the region. The 2017YES conference will be the fourth year of bringing youth together to share information to address climate change. The conference was awarded the 2014 Breathe California Award in the public awareness category.

There is no cost to attend the conference and breakfast and lunch will be provided for participants. Parents and teachers are also welcome. Students are required to have their parents’ permission to attend. For complete conference details, visit

The goal of the Spare the Air Youth program is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and driving by increasing walking and biking as a transportation mode among youths and their familiesthereby improving air quality in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Air District is the regional agency responsible for protecting air quality in the nine-county Bay Area.MTC is the transportation planning, coordinating and financing agency for the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties.

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Antioch School Board splits on Prop. 55 income tax support, Trustee Vinson criticized, faces possible recall effort

Friday, September 30th, 2016

By Nick Goodrich

At the Antioch School Board on Wednesday, September 28th, voiced their support of Proposition 55: Children’s Education and Health Protection Act, and heard complaints about Trustee Debra Vinson and a call for her recall.

During public comments, District employee Nicole Cedano, once again appeared before the Board to voice her displeasure with Vinson. Cedano, who, at the Board’s August 22nd meeting, first complained about Vinson’s behavior, said that since then she has been approached by several others who have experienced similar behavior by the first-term board member.

Cedano’s complaint during the August meeting was prompted by Vinson allegedly calling an Antioch High School employee a “bigot” the day before. Since then, Cedano told the Board, Vinson has made more inflammatory comments about Antioch City Councilmember Mary Rocha.

Vinson’s more recent comments allegedly include calling Rocha “too old, too out of touch, and not qualified to run for City Council” at the internal selections committee. Then, at the Democratic Central Committee meeting, she publicly called Rocha “a racist,” Cedano alleges.

When reached for comment, Rocha was less than pleased with Vinson’s statements.

“It did happen, and I’m very upset about it,” she told the Herald.

To Rocha, it seemed to be a political move aimed at hurting her chances at reelection to the Antioch City Council.

“I couldn’t believe what she said,” Rocha said of the comments. “It really astonished me.”

Vinson was also reached for comment by the Herald and shared her view of what transpired.

“At our Democrat endorsement meeting, I reported what Mary Rocha said during our June primary endorsement process when we were choosing to endorse Federal Glover,” Vinson said. “I reported only what Mary said, and no more. This is typical of the endorsement process when considering who to endorse.”

“She was advocating for Anamarie (Avila) Farias for supervisor and speaking on her behalf,” Vinson continued. “What she essentially said was the blacks have had their turn, the whites have had their turn and now it’s for the Mexican and Latino candidates to have their turn.

“I do remember her saying ‘it’s our time,’” referring to Mexican and Latino candidates, Vinson added.

“I repeated what Mary said (in the primary endorsement meeting) at the endorsement meeting for the November election to remind people and told them ‘we want candidates who are for all people and not to exclude anyone,’” Vinson remembers saying. “I never said Mary is a racist. I never said she’s too old. I never said that. People are saying things that aren’t true. I was very short and brief. Several people will verify what I said.”

Rocha responded to Vinson’s comments and recollection of what was said at the endorsement meetings.

“No. No. I didn’t say that,” Mary said. “You can ask the people who were there, including the chairman.”

“I’ll tell you what I did do. When Federal (Supervisor Glover) called me in January, and he asked me ‘Mary can you give me your endorsement,’ I told him no,” Rocha explained.  “I said ‘I covered you before. This time I have to support Ana Maria. I’ve got to support her because she’s Latina and I’ve got to at least help her make an effort.’”

“And I only said it to Federal, so how did he get it to Debra?” Rocha asked.

“She (Vinson) was endorsing Lamar (Thorpe, candidate for Antioch School Board) and then she said ‘she’s a racist’ and ‘is against black people from going forward,’” Rocha shared. “I said ‘I did not say that.’ She said that in front of 70 people she.”

Rocha then explained where the “too old” comment originated.

“Vinson said she I the ‘old guard’ and that ‘Lamar was the new one and that he would come in and take care of the city,’” Rocha added.

Cedano cited a District code that calls for any employee or official that makes comments detrimental to the District, to be punished with a fine.

With Vinson’s comments costing the District almost $3,000 in legal fees, Cedano said, there are reasonable grounds for her to be removed from the Board, and Cedano stated that a petition for Vinson’s recall is currently in the works.

Board Member Authority

Later in the meeting, Board Member Fernando Navarro brought Board Policy 9200: Limits of Board Member Authority to the Board’s attention.

Navarro proposed having the Board review the policy and make several positive changes. His concern is mostly with the language of the policy, and he stated that while he has some suggestions in mind, the Board should review the policy and present their proposed changes at the next Board meeting. The issue was tabled until that time.

At the end of the meeting, the Board discussed Proposition 55: Children’s Education and Health Protection Act, which proposes extending the temporary Prop 30 tax in California that would provide additional funds for education.

Prop. 55

Many Trustees had mixed feelings about Prop 55. Trustee Walter Ruehlig was wary of the “temporary tax”, as he noted that several other similar taxes have been drawn out long past their original end date.

“It’s probably not the perfect solution,” Ruehlig said. “I’m voting for it, but reluctantly. It looks like the lesser of two evils.”

Vinson stated that she is voting for it now, but that ultimately, the voters will have to decide. Trustee Alonzo Terry said, “When it comes to our kids and schools, we always have to side with them.”

Navarro was the lone dissenter in the Board’s 4-1 vote in favor of supporting the Proposition. He, like Ruehlig, was wary of yet another tax.

“We have to try to live within our means,” he told the audience. “It’s a downgrade, and we’re running out of road.”

Almost 90% of the tax revenue would go towards K-12 schools, with another 11% to state community colleges. An additional $2 billion would be designated for Medi-Cal and other health programs.

Prop 55 will appear on the state ballot in November.

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Free College Admissions Workshop for adult students in Antioch, Tues., Sept. 27

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

Thought about going to college, but not sure about the process?  Thought you were “too old” to start college?  Well, think again. Community colleges are a great starting point for reaching career goals.

The Antioch Adult School is offering a College Information Workshop on Tuesday, September 27 from 3:00 – 4:30 pm at the Antioch Adult School, 820 West Second Street, Room 144, Antioch.

Nick Morgan, Adult Transition Specialist for the school, will present information about the college application process.  The workshop is especially geared for non-traditional adult students who may be entering with a GED/high school equivalency or at a later stage of life.  He will discuss admissions, enrollment, assessments, and answer questions.  A future workshop is being planned to discuss financial aid.

The community is invited to attend.  For more information, please call the Antioch Adult Education office (925) 779-7490 or drop by Monday-Friday between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm.

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Free ESL, GED classes available in Antioch

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

Ready to get a job but need a high school diploma?

The Antioch Adult School offers FREE GED preparation classes as well as FREE English as a Second Language classes Monday – Friday with several open session times to match your schedule.

Registration is ongoing and orientations are offered on a weekly basis. Students learn in modern comfortable classrooms conveniently located at 820 West Second Street, Antioch (on the Tri Delta bus lines).

GED classes are self-paced. Classes contain both book-based and computer-based instruction with a credentialed teacher in class at all times to assist students.

Why do students take these classes? One new GED student stated, “I was so happy to find out about these classes.  I’m working on my GED and can’t wait to move up in my job as soon as I pass all the tests.”

Another student, Patricia Oliver-Munoz, explained her reasons for taking the classes:  “I’m proud that my children have all done well in school and are going to college.  Now it’s my turn. My children want to be proud of me and so they have encouraged me to get my GED. I’m working hard on my classes so I can pass.”

Antioch Adult School also has an Adult Transition Specialist, Nick Morgan, whose job is to help assist and support adult students as they transition into community college or career technical education.  He has information about the community college application process, financial aid, and programs offered. Students can sign up for a one-on-one session with Morgan.

For more information about the classes or to register for GED or ESL orientation, please call the Antioch Adult School office at (925) 779-7490 or stop in at the front desk today.

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Fernando Sandoval challenging Community College Board Vice President Greg Enholm in Ward 5 election

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
Fernando Sandoval

Fernando Sandoval

Pittsburg resident Fernando Sandoval is the seeking to oust incumbent Contra Costa Community College Board Trustee and Vice President, Greg Enholm in the Ward 5 race in the November election. Enholm is seeking his second term on the board.

In a press release sent Thursday from Sandoval’s campaign, it stated the following:

Fernando Sandoval is running for election as Contra Costa Community College Board Ward 5 serving the interests of Los Medanos College and Diablo Valley College.

He continues to meet with educators in the district, unions, college students, community members, non-profit organizations and elected officials to gather support and outline his position

A Pittsburg native, was raised and educated in East County. A Vietnam Veteran parent committed to improving the quality of education for all residents and for future generations in Contra Costa County. His experience and business background includes key roles in Finance, Collaboration, Financial Oversight, Innovation, Technology in the US and Internationally.

Fernando’s discussions in the community for serving and promoting the interests of the College District is resonating.

“We need fresh eyes, new ideas, and a leader who can bring people together in order to solve problems with practical ideas and future thinking”.

“Fernando has one of the most open and honest outgoing personalities I ever known, along with a people focused style and anyone who has the opportunity to meet and work with him will see that right away. I can say from personal experience with him that he brings his heart to the community and ideals to the table using his experience to bring a new wave of concepts to that organization”-  Valerie Romero Lopez

Fernando believes we need to:

- Support student success across the ward to enroll & complete their educational pursuits with access for education for all with ensuring financial sustainability, diversity and inclusion.

- Respond to our communities’ need for stronger collaboration with K1-K12, additional enrichment and vocational courses to prepare students for employment.

- Advocate for the inclusion of high demand Innovative and Emerging Technologies programs to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow for our community, today.

Fernando is listening to you, and your voice will be heard. Fernando has the education, experience, and commitment to bring needed change.

For more information about Sandoval visit

Ward 5 includes all or portions of the cities and communities of Concord, Clyde, Bay Point, Pittsburg, Antioch, Oakley, Brentwood, Bethel Island and Knightsen. View the ward boundaries map, here.

The election is November 8.

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