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Antioch Council grapples with budget, how to spend Measure C funds

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Public not happy with number of total police officers

By John Crowder

The Antioch City Council conducted a study session at their regular meeting on Tuesday, April 8th, regarding the city budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year and beyond. The tone of the meeting was set early on by City Manager Steve Duran.

The thing we want to focus on tonight…is…making hard decisions about the structural deficit that we’re running,” he said.

He also stated that the city was going to run out of money in just a few years if steps weren’t taken to both increase revenues and decrease the rate of spending.

Before Measure C we were going about 100 mph toward a wall that said economic destruction, and Measure C slowed us down to about 80 [mph],” Duran added.

Following Duran’s comments, Finance Director Dawn Merchant, gave a budget presentation. In the staff report which she provided to the Council, it states that reserves will be, “fully depleted in 2019-20.” She went on to answer questions the Council had asked at their previous session. She informed them that not continuing to fund library maintenance would, according to library personnel, possibly result in a reduction in hours from the current 35 per week at the downtown library.

Merchant said that police sworn staffing stood at 82 thirty days prior to the November election. In response to a question regarding how many officers might be hired with Measure C funds, she responded that it depended on several factors, including whether or not the officer was new or experienced, but that the number of new officers could range from 19 to 21. She gave a caveat, however, that bringing on this level of officers could require additional senior sworn staff, vehicles, equipment, support staff, and other items which were not accounted for in these estimates. City staff is estimating $4.3 million in revenue from Measure C in fiscal year 2014-2015.

Merchant provided the Council with several graphs detailing budgetary information, projecting revenues and expenses into future years. Police and animal support, she noted, currently takes up 74% of General Fund expenditures (73% to police and 1% to animal services). The budget allotment proposed for police services for fiscal year 2014-2015 is $32.8 million, including Measure C revenue, noted above.

The general fund also subsidizes certain operations, Ms. Merchant noted. These include $111,000 for golf course water, $165,000 for golf course debt service, $577,000 for recreation services, and $253,000 to Prewett Water Park.

Merchant asked the council for direction regarding continued funding of library maintenance for $112,000 and whether or not to reinstate earthquake insurance for $150,000.

Following the finance director’s presentation, Harper opened the floor for public comments. First to speak was Hans Ho, a former Antioch Police Crime Prevention Commissioner and the city’s Neighborhood Watch Coordinator. He said that the budget for fiscal year 2013-2014 had provision for 101.9 sworn officers. Ho wondered where the money went that reduced funding to allow for only 82 sworn officers. He wondered if their was a sleight of hand with the budget. He also objected to money being allocated for watering the golf course and recreation when there was not adequate money to protect the safety of citizens.

Antioch Real Estate Broker Mark Jordan was the next to speak. He was also unhappy with the proposed budget, and the number of police officers projected.

We have an income problem,” Jordan stated. “Building all the houses has created a situation in which the city is looking at bankruptcy down the road. It’s not about houses, it’s about jobs. It’s about producing income for the city. You can’t budget your way out of this problem…The truth is, we’re all standing on a railroad track. And the train is coming. And we’re not doing the right things to get out of the way. I don’t agree with the budget.”

Terry Ramus, a leader in the Antioch Chamber of Commerce, spoke next, asking for honesty with the numbers regarding Measure C. He said that, with Measure C, money allocated to the police department would be 32% more than peak-recession levels, yet he’s now hearing there will be less than 100 officers rather than 125.

Marty Fernandez said he thought the budget was “all a hoax” and that nobody was talking about the $80 million unfunded medical liability.

Following the public comments, Mayor Wade Harper asked Merchant for clarification of the difference between officers that are authorized and officers that are funded. She responded “Although in the budget there [were] 102 positions in the last several years…there has not been 102 fully funded for an entire year…it’s roughly 85 positions that are actually paid for in the general fund. There was 102 allocated positions, but they were not all cash funded with dollars.”

Duran then provided further clarification.

In 2008 the typical cost of a police officer, salary and benefits, was $140,495 and [in the fiscal year ending in 2015] that number is $192,445,” he said. “That’s about a 37% increase per officer…that is the bulk of the cost.”

Mayor Pro Tem Mary Rocha addresses the budget issues saying that while she hated the word outsourcing, maybe that was something that needed to be considered with respect to the golf course.

Duran then interjected that other things to think about along those lines were the water park, the senior center, other recreational programs and arts and cultural programs. He also noted, in response to the public comments, that residential development would bring more property tax, and would encourage retail to follow, generating additional sales tax.

Even so, it’s three years before we see some of the positive economic impacts of most of that,” he said.

Merchant then also responded to some of the public comments regarding police officer funding.

We have 97 sworn in next year’s budget…if we were to add another 20 officers to that, that would be $4.3 million on top of what we’re projecting for the expenses here, so that’s another $4.3 million in fund balance reduction if we were to add another 20 officers beyond that,” she said. “The cost per officer has gone up astronomically since 2008 due to various benefit increases as well as pre-negotiated salary increases in their memorandum of understanding.”

You know, this is real money and real jobs,” Councilman Gary Agopian said. “This is not made up. We’re making important decisions, we can’t push it off. The gap is not going to get better unless we take in more money, or reduce expenses. There’s only so much money. All the money in Measure C is going to police. I’m not in favor of increasing our non-public safety budget. I will not agree to spend any additional money…We need to continue to hire, but we need to hire in a measured way for public safety. As we get the money, then we can hire.”

We need to look at a balanced recreation budget. We’re going to have to shut things down, and that’s what Mrs. Rocha is trying to call out,” he added. “I don’t think we can get enough savings just by shutting everything down and running a police department in Antioch…We’re going to have to increase property taxes.” He also mentioned the citizen-led idea to start taxing landlords.

Then Harper also responded to the public comments.

I went back and reviewed every document that went out…and nothing said, 102 plus 22 [police officers],” he said. “I believe that spending all the Measure C funds on police and Code Enforcement, and getting us as close as we can to the 20 plus officers, using all the Measure C funds, is the promise kept. I don’t believe there’s any broken promises, any sleight of hand.”

The Council then gave direction by consensus on the several items brought forward. They decided no on earthquake insurance, and no on funding for maintenance at the library on East 18th Street.

. The structure of staff positions suggested by Duran was approved, but raises for people whose positions were changed were denied.

Duran suggested that, over the next several months, the City should look into and consider the privatization or sale of the golf course.

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Antioch Council passes controversial ordinance banning feral cat feeding

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

By John Crowder

Once again, the debate over the feeding of feral cats on public property was a highlight of an Antioch City Council meeting. Following extended comments by citizens and representatives of organizations on both sides of the issue, at the Tuesday, April 8 meeting, the Council voted 4-1, with Councilman Tiscareno against, to pass an ordinance banning the feeding of feral cats on public property.

Just over two dozen people spoke on a motion recommended by city staff to amend in its entirety Title 6, Chapter 1, regarding Animals, of the Antioch Municipal Code. This revision of the code calls for, among other things, the feral cat feeding ban. The emotional issue has come up before the Council for months now, and, as at previous meetings, both sides of the issue were well represented during public comments on the matter.

They began with two young students speaking against the ordinance. Each pointed out that cats, through no fault of their own, had been dumped by their former owners and were simply looking to survive. Their comments were followed by several speakers from cat rescue groups asking that the ordinance not be passed while they implemented a Trap, Neuter, and Release program to solve the problem of feral cats. Speakers said that they had $20,000 in funds committed to such a program.

On the other side, residents, business owners, and representatives of the National Audubon Society asked the Council to pass the ordinance to alleviate problems in the downtown and marina areas with odors and the potential for disease associated with feral cats. Another issue of concern was the possibility of the colonies of cats attacking and harming wildlife on the Delta.

Following public comments, Council members briefly discussed the matter. Councilman Gary Agopian made the point that the proposed ordinance did not prohibit the feeding of cats on private property. Discussion was followed by Mayor Pro Tem Mary Rocha introducing the motion to pass the ordinance, with the caveat that city staff continue to work with animal rescue groups toward a humane solution for dealing with the feral cats. The Council then voted for the passage of the long discussed ordinance.

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Antioch School District responds to Dozier-Libbey teachers’ recent press release

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

From the Office of Associate Superintendent, Stephanie Anello in collaboration with Louie Rocha, Principal Antioch High School and Kenneth Gardner, Principal Deer Valley High School

The Antioch Unified School District is once again forced to respond to misinformation from the petitioners attempting to convert Dozier-Libbey Medical High School (DLMHS) to an Independent Charter School. On Friday, April 4, after the Superior Court denied the petitioner’s request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), inaccurate information was sent to parents and media through a press release. The District wishes to respond to this misinformation:

Misinformation #1:

The petitioners’ press release states that the Dozier Independent Charter Petitioners, “won a small victory in the Superior Court of Contra Costa County when the Honorable Judge Laurel Brady agreed that demands being made by the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD), with the regard to a questionable counter charter proposal, were unreasonable.”

Fact:

On Thursday April 03, 2014, the conversion petitioners’ lawyers with barely 24-hours’ notice to the District filed for a TRO against the District and Associate Superintendent Stephanie Anello and Superintendent Dr. Donald Gill.

The petitioners sought to restrain the Dozier–Libbey Medical High School-Dependent Charter School (DLMHS-DCS) from using the name Dozier-Libbey, and from enrolling students and hiring staff to work at the lawfully approved dependent charter school.

The application for the TRO was heard on Friday, April 04, 2014 at the Superior Court of Contra Costa County in Martinez. The Honorable Judge Laurel Brady refused to grant the TRO, due to her need for more time to review the “complexity” of the case, and instead postponed the matter to a full hearing on April 28, 2014

Until the hearing, the Judge requested the District extend the deadline for students and staff to express interest in attending and working at the new dependent charter school until April 28, 2014.

The District agreed to do so. At no time did the judge say that the Dependent Charter was “unreasonable” in its effort to launch this new start-up charter. The Judge also confirmed DLMHS-DCS is not restrained from continuing with its activities.

Misinformation #2:

The petitioners’ press release states, “The process to convert the Dozier Libbey into a public charter school was greatly confused last month, apparently deliberately so, when the district filed and approved its own petition to convert the high-performing medical pathway school into a district-dependent charter school, immediately after denying the original independent charter petition submitted by the faculty of Dozier Libbey Medical High School.”

Fact:

The District has not and will not deliberately confuse our parents and staff! The fact that the petitioners met in secret without involving students, parents, and the community in their plans is what caused confusion. Continued misleading information such as the press release sent out on Friday April 4th continues to confuse students, their parents, and the community.

Misinformation #3:

The petitioners’ press release states, “The legality of the district’s petition is highly suspect as the district was unable to obtain a single signature from Dozier Libbey faculty (California Ed Code requires concurrence of 50% of the current teachers plus one). A preliminary injunction request has been filed with the court against AUSD on behalf of the students, parents, and faculty of Dozier Libbey Medical High School, the hearing for which is set on April 28th.”

Fact:

The DLMHS-DCS petitioners did not file a ‘conversion’ charter petition, they filed a “start-up charter petition” to form a charter school that supports and enhances the current DLMHS. The teacher signature requirements for a “start-up” petition are different in that they may be signed by any teacher “meaningfully interested” in working at the school. It is interesting to note that the dependent charter petition contained 127 teacher signatures “meaningfully interested” in working at the school–nearly six times the number of signatures in support of the independent, conversion charter petition.

Misinformation #4:

The petitioners’ press release states, “Pending this hearing, the judge has ordered the district to withdraw its demand that parents enroll their children in the district’s dependent charter by April 7. The district has repeatedly admonished parents that in failing to do so parents will risk losing their spot at the school next year. The judge further ordered that the district withdraw its demand that Dozier Libbey teachers commit to employment at the district dependent charter by the close of business today, or risk termination.”

Fact:

Judge Brady did not order the District to withdraw any “demand.” Rather, Judge Brady extended the time frame for students to express interest in enrolling in the new DLMHS-DCS. She never used the words “rescind” or “withdraw”. She asked the District to extend the deadline and the District agreed.

Following the approval of the new DLMHS-DCS, parents and community members currently enrolled at DLMHS continued to ask for assurances that their children could attend the new DLMHS-DCS. The District sent out a letter to these parents first granting them a spot if they so choose. Starting a new school takes a lot of planning and hiring so knowing how many students would enroll in the new school was a crucial and necessary first step.

Additionally, the District sent out a letter to current DLMHS staff asking if they would be interested in working at the new start-up DLMHS-DCS prior to opening the positions for transfer according to the Antioch Education Association (AEA) bargaining contract. At no time were staff told they would be terminated. Proponents of the independent charter appear to have misinformed students and parents.

Misinformation #5:

The petitioners’ press release states, “Although the district’s charter was initially described in public hearing as a new start–up charter, AUSD has since announced via social media that its charter will replace the current Dozier Libbey Medical High School. The district has not yet provided legal justification for how it would accomplish what would appear to be a clear violation of both California Education Code and the Charter School Act of 1992.”

Fact:

The District has not announced via social media that the DLMHS-DCS would replace DLMHS. DLMHS-DCS will enhance and support the current curriculum and supports provided by DLMHS. Once the community advisory committee comprised of parents, community, and staff is established, enhancements such as a dual immersion medical courses, an opportunity for students to receive a seal of bi-literacy, or a middle college opportunity will be discussed.

Misinformation #6:

The petitioners’ press release states, “Supporters of the Dozier-Libbey believe that the court, like much of the Antioch community, will take a dim view of the school district’s attempt, with great expenditure of public funds, to confuse the issue of the school’s legal conversion to a public charter school.”

Fact:

The community has voiced little to no support for the independent, conversion charter petition submitted by the 23 Dozier Libbey Medical High School teachers. In fact, at the public hearing before the Board of Education on March 19, 2014, parents and community members expressed their overwhelming disapproval of the petition to convert DLMHS into an independent charter school.

The petitioners’ press release did get one thing right —the District has been forced to use money and resources that should be going to 18,000 students in order to respond to the unsupported and unnecessary actions of 23 petitioners.

 ———–

Following is the complete press release from the teachers organizing the Dozier-Libbey independent charter conversion:

Antioch Unified School District Ordered to Rescind Dependent Charter Deadlines

Martinez, CA – April 4, 2014 – This morning the students, parents, and teachers of Dozier-Libbey Medical High School, fighting to convert their school to an independent public charter school, won a small victory in the Superior Court of Contra Costa County when the Honorable Judge Laurel Brady agreed that demands being made by the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD), with regard to a questionable counter charter proposal, were unreasonable. 

The process to convert Dozier-Libbey into a public charter school was greatly confused last month, apparently deliberately so, when the district filed and approved its own petition to convert the high-performing medical pathway school into a district-dependent charter school, immediately after denying the original independent charter petition submitted by the faculty of Dozier-Libbey.  The legality of the district’s petition is highly suspect, as the district was unable to obtain a single signature from Dozier-Libbey faculty (California Ed Code requires concurrence of 50% of the current teachers plus one).  A preliminary injunction request has been filed with the court against AUSD on behalf of the students, parents, and faculty of Dozier-Libbey Medical High School , the hearing for which is set on April 28th. 

Pending this hearing, the judge has ordered the district to withdraw its demand that parents enroll their children in the district’s dependent charter by April 7.  The district has repeatedly admonished parents that in failing to do so parents will risk losing their spot at the school next year.  The judge further ordered that the district withdraw its demand that Dozier-Libbey teachers commit to employment at the district dependent charter by the close of business today, or risk termination.

The teachers of Dozier-Libbey filed a petition last February, in accordance with the charter schools section of the California Education Code, to convert their school to a public charter governed by a school board that would be independent of AUSD’s board of trustees.  The teachers’ 121-page petition presents a strong case for significantly improving academic programs and fiscal management at this respected pathway school, however AUSD denied the petition last month, prompting teachers to file an appeal with the Contra Costa County Board of Education.  The school district took the additional step of approving its own charter petition for Dozier-Libbey that would leave the school under the governing authority of the AUSD board.  Although the district’s charter was initially described in public hearing as a new start-up charter, AUSD has since announced via social media that its charter will replace the current Dozier-Libbey Medical High School .  The district has not yet provided legal justification for how it would accomplish what would appear to be a clear violation of both California Education Code and the Charter School Act of 1992. 

Supporters of Dozier-Libbey believe that the court, like much of the Antioch community, will take a dim view of the school district’s attempt, with great expenditure of public funds, to confuse the issue of the school’s legal conversion to a public charter school. 

The case pending before the Contra Costa Superior Court is Dozier-Libbey Medical High School et al. v. Antioch Unified School District, et al. (Case No. CIVMSN14-0453).  A ruling is scheduled for 9:00am on April 28th.  Updated information can be found online at DozierLibbeyCharter.com.

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Antioch School District ordered to postpone dependent charter deadlines for Dozier-Libbey, but permitted to move forward

Saturday, April 5th, 2014
Dozier Libbey dependent signups 04 01 14 Antioch School District ordered to postpone dependent charter deadlines for Dozier Libbey, but permitted to move forward

District personnel set up a table to register students for the dependent charter school at Dozier-Libbey Medical High School for 2014-15 on Tuesday, April 1, 2014. In the photo are Tim Forrester, Associate Superintendent for Business & Operations, third from right and Dr. Don Gill, Superintendent, far right. photo by Stacey Wickware

By Allen Payton

On Friday morning, April 4, 2014, Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Laurel Brady asked the Antioch Unified School District to postpone deadlines for the 2014-15 school year, under the district’s dependent charter.

Although the teachers in favor of the independent charter are claiming a minor victory, the judge’s decisions merely asked the district to postpone until April 28, the requirement that Dozier-Libbey teachers commit to employment at the district dependent charter by the close of business Friday. In addition, the deadline for parents to sign-up their students for the Fall was also postponed from Monday, April 7 to Monday, April 28.

A complete hearing of arguments from both sides and a ruling is scheduled for 9:00 A.M. on April 28.

The decisions were in response to a temporary restraining order filed by the attorneys for the organizers of the independent charter conversion to stop the district from moving forward with its dependent charter conversion.

However, the judge refused to hear that and the district was not prevented from moving forward and allowed to proceed with the dependent charter, as planned.

The case pending before the Contra Costa Superior Court is Dozier-Libbey Medical High School et al. v. Antioch Unified School District, et al. (Case No. CIVMSN14-0453).

This article was revised at 3:27 p.m., Saturday, April 5, 2014

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BART riders can see the nee Fleet of the Future train cars at Pittsburg/Bay Point Station April 23

Friday, April 4th, 2014

New BART train 1024x494 BART riders can see the nee Fleet of the Future train cars at Pittsburg/Bay Point Station April 23

The riders spoke and BART listened when designing the new Fleet of the Future train cars. Now the public is invited to experience what the new fleet will look and feel like during an unprecedented outreach effort with 10 events held all over the Bay Area between April 16th and May 9th.  The public will get to walk through the model train car and provide feedback on the new modern features.  This tour is the final review of the train car design before manufacturing and testing begin. 

New Features

By popular demand, the new cars will be:

  • Quieter: “micro-plug” doors will help seal out noise
  • Cooler:  cooling systems will distribute air directly to the ceilings, making it more comfortable for standees on hot days
  • Comfortable:  padded seats will have lumbar support and will be covered with wipeable fabric for ease of cleaning
  • Easy to use:  routes will be color coded like the BART system map, and next stop information will be readily available via automated announcements and digital screens

Watch the video on YouTube, by clicking here, for a sneak peek.  More details about BART’s New Train Car Project can be found at www.bart.gov/cars

Please find attached the printable invitation

Times & Locations

San Francisco—Justin Herman Plaza
(Near Embarcadero Station)
April 16, 2014 | 11:30am–7:00pm 

West Oakland Station
April 18, 2014 | 2:00–7:00pm

Fremont Station
April 21, 2014 | 2:00–7:00pm 

Pittsburg/Bay Point Station
April 23, 2014 | 2:00–7:00pm

San Francisco—Civic Center Plaza
(Fulton Street near Civic Center Station)
April 25, 2014 | 11:00am–7:00pm 

North Berkeley Station
April 29, 2014 | 2:00–7:00pm

Milpitas/San Jose—Great Mall
Main Transit Center
(Great Mall Parkway & S. Main Street)
May 2, 2014 | 2:00–7:00pm

Dublin/Pleasanton Station
May 5, 2014 | 2:00–7:00pm 

Fruitvale Station
May 7, 2014 | 2:00–7:00pm

Concord Station
May 9, 2014 | 2:00–7:00pm

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Dozier-Libbey teachers provide Q&A on charter conversion

Friday, April 4th, 2014

A press briefing was held on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 by the Dozier-Libbey Medical High School teachers working to convert to an independent charter school. Following are their notes.

Provided by Stacey Wickware, Lead Petitioner & Steering Committee Member

As expected, the Antioch School Board of Trustees voted to deny Dozier-Libbey’s petition to convert to a public charter school. This petition will now be forwarded to the Contra Costa County Board of Education on appeal. The board also voted to approve the district’s petition to create a “start-up” charter on Dozier-Libbey’s current campus. Legally, the district’s charter is in question and therefore, our staff has deferred to our legal council, the California Charter Schools Association, and the California Teachers Association for advice on how to proceed on that front. In the meantime, the Dozier-Libbey teachers are moving forward with their independent charter through the appeals process at the county level.

As the dedicated staff at Dozier-Libbey wants the best opportunities for our students and vehemently believes the independent charter conversion is the only option to guarantee the future of DLMHS, the programs we seek to create by converting to an independent charter will provide us the site-based authority to do even better for all students, particularly those who might not be well served in the traditional system. 

The district has attempted to paint our conversion charter effort as one without precedent. On the contrary, there are plenty of schools statewide that were considered ‘high performing’ before converting as well. We at Dozier-Libbey believe as these schools did, that converting to an independent charter allows the school to do much better by the students. Although it has been repeatedly stated that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” we submit that the school under district governance has not been able to do enough to help Latino, African American, English Learners and special education pupils succeed in a rigorous college preparatory high school. We know we can do better with local governance and we owe it to our students to do everything we can for them. Over the past month, even in the face of opposition, our resolve has only been strengthened. We believe there is no place for mediocrity in public education.

It is important to note that the Dozier-Libbey independent conversion charter will be very much a part of the public school system, and one that the community of Antioch will be proud of. Our desire is not to isolate Dozier-Libbey but to raise the bar and close the achievement gap for all public school students by working collaboratively and sharing best practices with public school educators of charter schools and district schools alike. As part of the public school system, we believe it is in the community’s best interest, and that of the school district, to work with Dozier-Libbey students to allow participation in district sports and activities. These students are Antioch public school students. In fact, the intent of Proposition 39 is to ensure “that public school facilities should be shared fairly among all public school pupils, including those in charter schools.” (Ed Code 47614). This includes access to not only the Dozier-Libbey campus but public school athletic facilities. Dozier-Libbey is committed to working together professionally with AUSD to create a workable agreement on behalf of the students of Antioch. We are willing and able to support our students in this process. The ball is in the school district’s court to make the decision to allow student athletes the opportunity to participate in district athletic programs just as they do currently.  

The issue of our student body and the lottery system has been raised frequently since the teachers filed the conversion petition. Unfortunately, there has been some misinterpretation of how the legally required public lottery will work. We would like to clarify as follows:

  1. All students currently enrolled in the Charter School – these are our current students, all of whom are part of the Antioch Unified School District’s attendance area. This includes, for the first year of the charter, the incoming freshmen already selected through the public lottery.

  2. Siblings of enrolled students – these students are siblings of currently enrolled students and therefore should also be part of the Antioch Unified School District’s attendance area.

  3. Children of Charter School teachers and staff – since the staff is small, this represents very few possibilities for enrollment (as many as 3 over the next four years).

  4. Students who reside in the former attendance area – these are all Antioch students as the former attendance area of DLMHS prior to charter conversion was only open to Antioch students.

  5. Residents of the District – this is exactly the same as #4 above since DLMHS enrolled students from the entirety of Antioch and did not have a separate attendance area.

  6. All other applicants – if, and only if there is still space available after all Antioch applicants have been placed, students wishing to attend from outside the AUSD may apply. Since the waiting list for DLMHS has been historically long, it is highly unlikely that space will be available for students residing outside the city of Antioch.

We would also like to clarify the confusion surrounding the school’s previous “No D” grading policy. The charter petition mentions the removal of this policy by the school district as an example of how proven, signature practices of the school that were originally supported by district leadership, have been eliminated. It is important to note that the charter petition does NOT indicate a return to this policy, contrary to what you may have heard. Rather, Dozier-Libbey is committed to exploring the best, standards-based grading practices for its students with an emphasis on accurately preparing those students for college, career, and for life. This means that students will be encouraged through best teaching practices and meaningful summative assessments in meeting the “a through g” requirements set forth by UC/CSU. As an independent charter, Dozier-Libbey will have the necessary supports in place to assist ALL students in meeting these requirements. To reduce the main motivation for charter conversion to that of the “No D” policy is an unfair assessment of the charter petition.

Perhaps the most compelling reason propelling the Dozier-Libbey staff forward in pursuing the charter conversion is the ability to fully implement several innovative programs that are only possible with local governance of the school. We like to refer to these programs as our “Sweet 16,” which represents our desire to serve ALL students as they have been designed around producing and developing well rounded, capable young adults. Several of these programs were specifically designed to benefit our disadvantaged students, something that we have not been able to accomplish effectively in the past. These innovative programs are as follows:

  1. Aggressive Intervention Programs for All Students Who Are Behind

    • Saturday Bridge to Success to close the achievement gap, focusing on low-performing 
students and those below proficiency on state tests.

    • Winter Session for elective credit and credit recovery during Winter break.

    • Summer Science Camp for 1-2 weeks partnering with Livermore Berkeley National Lab, 
JGI, California Academy of Sciences, and Exploratorium.

    • After School: Sophomore English support, Explore medical robotics, mini-series on 
health topics.

    • Summer Enrichment program with 4-week intensive study to close achievement gap in 
reading, writing and math using Achieve 3000, Destination Math, and Khan Academy.

    • Continue mid-day Advisory period where students seek teacher assistance with 
assignments.

  2. Medical America


  • Implement this new U.S. History course, developed two years ago, that explores diseases, medical discoveries, and innovations in a historical context incorporating ethnic and racial minority inclusiveness with school advocacy projects.

  • Submit course to University of California to obtain approval for this class meeting UC and CSU entrance requirements.

  1. Forensic Pathology – The Medical Science of Crime Scene Investigations

    • In partnership with UCSF Forensic pathologist Dr. Sanchez, develop and implement a forensic pathology course including hands-on medical activities with biotechnology, 
entomology, toxicology, DNA analysis, blood typing and fingerprint analysis.

    • Students will take trips to the county morgue and a pathology lab. Guest speakers will include a coroner. Submit to University of California to obtain approval for this class 
meeting UC and CSU entrance requirements.

  2. Good Eats

    • Plant vegetable gardens with organic and genetically modified seeds on campus and 
analyze and compare outcomes.

    • Outcomes applicable to health science, science and math classes.

    • Give organic vegetables to school food services for student lunch.

  3. Dramatic Expansion of Art Courses and Extracurricular Activities


  • Expand student expression in the arts by offering classes in jazz band, music appreciation around the world, chorus, music composition, drama, ceramics, and cartooning.

  1. Get Connected!

    • Implement a student computer server. Students could bring their own computer to 
school, and DLMHCS will purchase computers for students who cannot afford them.

    • Server will provide a place to store students’ electronic portfolios and assignments.

    • Students will access this server via the Internet from home and the school network.

  2. Books, Books, Books


  • Hire a full-time librarian, which will allow development and implementation of electronic textbooks and reading materials, researching primary source and other databases for student research, and an after-school book club for our voracious readers.

  1. It Takes a Village

    • Upperclassmen lead Bridge program (Link Crew) for incoming 9th graders to orient 
students to high school focusing on study skills.

    • Upperclassmen and Los Medanos College students lead 10th and 11th grade in one-week 
summer program to prepare for success in chemistry, physics, and higher level math.

    • Assign upperclassman to serve as a mentor to each incoming freshman to meet with and provide tutoring and encouragement during the freshman year.

    • Recruit community members with appropriate expertise in medical fields to mentor 
students.

  2. We Are One

    • Continue with mainstreaming of Special Education and English Learner students in all 
classes whenever possible.

    • Monthly teacher collaboration time to creatively design and improve individual Special 
Education and English Learner student accommodations and assignments to ensure 
success.

    • Two year Spanish class for English Learner students that combines grammar and 
academic vocabulary to help re-designate students.

    • Design credit recovery classes tailored to Special Education and English Learners.

10. Sibling Care

    • Many of our students miss school because they need to stay home and care for a well or 
sick sibling so their parents can work. We will negotiate a contract for drop-in care with a licensed child care provider preventing our students from missing school and falling behind in their studies. Depending on parent income, this could be free child care or care at a sliding scale rate.

    • This program will also be offered to teachers with young children. 


11. The Counselor is In


  • Full-time counselor, and John F Kennedy University psychology interns to run grief, anger management, and stress relief groups during lunch and after school.

12. Happy and Healthy Carnival

  • Partner with elementary schools so that students can conduct a health-themed carnival during the school day. We will focus on students teaching healthy habits to children and parents to encourage physical and mental well-being.

  • Examples of games include a bean bag toss, throwing bean bags shaped like healthy food, into a giant, open mouth; a huge model of teeth and giant tooth brushes with students showing children how to brush properly; and a long, flexible tunnel children crawl through showing the digestive system from beginning to end.

13. Everyone Plays

  • Intramural sports program for all students to promote healthy life-long exercise and teamwork. Possible initial sports: volleyball, tennis, badminton, and basketball.

  • Implement a contract with local In Shape to allow 11th and 12th grade students to continue their goal of physical fitness for life. 


14. Health Careers, Here We Come!

    • Using innovative technology that currently exists with our Health Care Partners, watch 
surgeries and non-invasive procedures adhering to HIPAA guidelines.

    • Invite nationally recognized medical professionals in the classroom as guest speakers and project judges. Technology will allow us to tap into medical expertise at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Contra Costa County Public and Mental Health, and National health organizations such as Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and HHS (Health 
and Human Services) under the Office of the Surgeon General.

    • Continue field trips to Kaiser Permanent Operating Room and Nutrition Services (9th grade), John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek (10th grade), e-mentoring by health professional (10th grade), and practice interviews with Human Resources professionals from our health care partners (11th grade).

    • Continue to plan one college field trip per month to a 4-year college, with students attending a minimum of one college trip per year. 


15. Beyond the California Coast

  • Through innovative technology, establish virtual relationships with health care providers 
around the globe. Implement virtual job shadows where students follow a health care 
professional during a normal day.

  • Through technology bring international health care providers and the World Health 
Organization (WHO) into the classroom as guest speakers and project judges.

  • Collaborative project work with students from other countries using free CISCO platform.

16. Above and Beyond: Middle College

      • Implement a collaborative agreement with Los Medanos College to have students earn 
an AA or AS and a high school diploma in 4-5 years and then transfer to a 4-year college 
or university.

      • Counseling and teacher support for all students to succeed.

In closing, it is important to note that our charter petition is a proposal that nearly every teacher on campus participated in drafting, and every teacher on campus supports. We fully understand the value of working together with our community and our parents, which is why the petition states “parents may hold position on the board or in various school committees. Additionally, parents will be strongly encouraged to be involved in and contribute to DLMHS.” The teachers work with students on campus every day and, together with parents, are best situated to these student’s needs. We know these children. We know these parents. We have their best interests at heart and want to ensure that the school operates in a manner that will best prepare these students for success. We want a school that reflects the highest standards of excellence, a culture that empowers teachers, and demonstrates a fervent commitment to the success of every student entrusted to our care regardless of their race, socioeconomic status or learning needs. We must not pass up this opportunity for a great school simply because we have a good one. We ask our students, as does society, to try their best to be their best. It is our responsibility as teachers to model the same high standards to our students. It would be an injustice to ask our students to expect any less. Settling for mediocrity when it comes to education is not an option.

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Antioch City Council welcomes Auto Zone’s third location

Monday, March 31st, 2014

By John Crowder

Economic development, and especially the reputation of the City of Antioch as it seeks to bring in new business, was the dominant topic at the council meeting on Tuesday, March 25. Following a lengthy discussion and a public hearing, the Council approved, on a 5-0 vote, making the changes necessary to the general and specific plan that would allow Auto Zone to bring an additional store to Antioch.

Auto Zone, a leading automotive parts distributor, with over 5,000 locations in the United States and Mexico, made a proposal over a year ago to develop the vacant lot on the northeast corner of Lone Tree Way and Fairside Way in the city. However, their efforts to do so had been slowed as the company sought to meet various requests put forward by city staff with respect to the development of the property, and then the Planning Commission voted 4-1 to deny their application.

During the Council meeting, staff laid out their objections to allowing Auto Zone to develop the subject property. These concerns included a perceived incompatibility with the surrounding residential neighborhood, safety concerns with respect to traffic, and potential noise issues.

Following the staff report, Jeff Halbert, representing Auto Zone, addressed, point by point, each of the concerns that had been brought up by staff. He expressed some frustration in dealing with city staff over the time in which they had been having discussions regarding the project, stating that he “felt that he should be treated fairly, and given a fair hearing, and that hasn’t happened.”

He noted that Auto Zone had paid for a number of studies, all of which had concluded that Auto Zone would not have a significant negative impact. He stated that vehicle traffic estimates for the store were quite low during peak hours, and that Auto Zone would agree to changes that would alleviate any traffic concerns connected with the movement of automobiles on Lone Tree Way. With respect to noise abatement, he pointed to staff’s own comments, noting, “To say that there are noise issues is erroneous. Staff has pointed this out in response to comments.” He continued, pointing out steps that Auto Zone would take to mitigate any noise concerns.

Following Halbert’s comments, several local luminaries spoke in favor of Auto Zone bringing a store to the Lone Tree Way site.

Regular council attendee, Fred Hoskins was the first to speak.

I took the time to read the entire staff report, and the things that were discussed behind the scenes,” he said. “I think that our city planning commission, is basically anti-business. Maybe we ought to change our attitudes, the planning commission, and say, ‘maybe we need to change our attitudes here.’”

Don Freitas, a former Antioch mayor, also spoke in favor of the project.

We’re talking a lot about economic development…from my perspective economic development means [bringing businesses to our community.] The question before you, are we going to continue keeping [the lot] vacant, or bring in Auto Zone?” he asked. “We need to change our reputation with regard to being business friendly, or business unfriendly.”

Long-time resident and local Realtor, Ralph Garrow also spoke in favor of the project.

I think you need to look at the big picture on this. Antioch has a reputation in the commercial real estate business as being anti-business,” he shared emphatically. “We need to find a way to make this work, not just have staff go through their rule book and say, ‘no,no,no,no,no.’”

Dr. Sean Wright, CEO of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce, also addressed the council, stating, “I’m here on behalf of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce in support of Auto Zone, today.”

Another former mayor, Joel Keller, who was a consultant on the project, also weighed in, saying, “I would urge you to support this proposal…If you approve this, people will know that the door is open for business in Antioch.”

Following the public comments, Council members discussed the matter. They questioned the Auto Zone representative, primarily with respect to what type of jobs the store would bring to the community. Mayor Harper directed some remarks toward city staff about being more welcoming to business, after asking them some pointed questions during their presentation.

Once the council members’ questions were answered, Mayor Pro Tem Rocha made a motion with several parts, in support of allowing the Auto Zone project to go forward. But even before the 5-0 vote, approving the project, Mayor Harper officially welcomed them to Antioch.

Council bans feeding feral cats

In another issue, the Council voted 4-1, with only Council Member Tiscareno voting against, an ordinance recommended by staff to ban the feeding of feral cats on public property. At the same time, the Council directed staff to continue to try to work with those groups who were opposed to the ban to find other solutions to the feral cat problem that might be considered “more humane.”

The ordinance banning the feeding of feral cats on public property generated a considerable amount of public comment, both for and against. Those speaking out in support of the ordinance noted the health and quality of life concerns associated with a feral cat population in the city. Comments made by Nancy Fernandez were typical. “The city has become one big cat box,” she said.

On the other side, many self-professed animal rescue volunteers spoke against the ordinance. Their main issue was what they perceived as an inhumane reaction to the feral cat problem.

During the discussion of the issue by the Council, Councilman Gary Agopian twice addressed the audience, asking them to show him some respect, and to stop interrupting him during his comments. Following his second attempt to outline his thinking on the matter, he introduced the motion that the Council ultimately passed.

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Delta Tunnel opponents respond to Secretary Jewell: Don’t support water export tunnels

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014
Stop the Delta Tunnels rally 2 Delta Tunnel opponents respond to Secretary Jewell: Don’t support water export tunnels

Opponents of the proposed tunnels under the delta rally during a visit by U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to the Byron pumping plant on Tuesday, March 11. Photo courtesy of Restore the Delta.

SACRAMENTO – Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Gov. Brown’s rush to build Peripheral Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today called upon U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to not support the tunnels, to let federal scientists do their job without political interference, and to embrace better policies for a sustainable water future. Federal scientists have refused to sign off on the tunnels project, noting that it cannot achieve its goal of restoring the health of the Delta estuary while removing millions of acre-feet of water from the Delta.

Restore the Delta is disappointed that Secretary Jewell did not stop to speak with Delta protesters yesterday,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of RTD. “We call on her to meet at a later date with Delta farmers, Delta government officials, fishery experts, Delta water and reclamation districts, and community groups to learn firsthand about the impacts of the drought and water mismanagement by the State on the Delta economy and ecosystem health, and how the BDCP will lead to the destruction of Delta and coastal fisheries, the SF Bay, Delta family farms and the economy for the 4 million Delta residents. Secretary Jewell should not be misled that the BDCP would provide reliable water supplies nor restore the health of the Delta. This boondoggle benefits mainly a handful of unsustainable mega-growers.”

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