Schools Need Discipline, Not New Bond Measure

The Antioch Unified School District has hired Ken Gardner as the new principal for Deer Valley High School. Don’t know the man but the fact that, in addition to spending the past 12 years in the education field, he is a former Air Force major and a police lieutenant is reassuring.

It will take a good communicator as well as one willing to implement tough discipline policies to steer Deer Valley High off rocky shoals. It was just this past April 14th that fights broke out in different areas of the campus after lunch. When a teacher jumped in to stop one of the assaults, the teacher was hit and kicked by students as was another teacher, bringing the total to five teachers and two staff members assaulted by students during the school year.

Teachers have been complaining about a communication gap and expressing safety concerns since 2009 when former Superintendent Dr. Deborah Sims abolished teacher representation on the District Curriculum Task Force Committee and instituted a weakened discipline policy, which led to a significant reduction in appropriate suspensions and expulsions. (Sims later resigned amid a storm of controversy.)

Regrettably, unless Ken Gardner can get newly appointed Superintendent Donald Gill and school trustees, who live in fear of lawsuits, to address problems with the district’s current discipline policy, he’s got a hard row to hoe. Assaulting a teacher verbally or physically should lead to instant expulsion, no ifs and or buts about it. And the assault should be reported to the Antioch Police Department immediately. Negligent parents should be cited as well as their children.

Inasmuch as the AUSD has expressed considerable concern for possible funding cutbacks by the state (87 percent of the General Fund budget being utilized for salary and benefits of district personnel), school district Trustees Diane Gibson-Gray, Claire Smith, Walter Ruehling, Gary Hack and Joy Motta should advise administrators to stop throwing money at numerous “educational consultants” who run programs such as the recent “I Understand” training for teachers and staff.

They should also rethink their decision to put a bond measure to modernize Antioch High School on next year’s ballot. Ongoing maintenance of facilities is supposed to come out of district operating funds – districts being required to dedicate 3 percent of their General Fund budget for this purpose.

Just three years ago trustees put a $61 million bond measure on the ballot stating that the tax was needed to fund improvements at older non Mello-Roos Schools, e.g. Belshaw, Fremont, Kimball, Marsh, Mission, Muir, Sutter and Turner elementary schools as well as Antioch and Park Middle Schools, Antioch, Bidwell Continuation, Live Oaks and Prospects High School.

Due to how the prior bond measure was structured, the bond only required 55 percent approval to pass, as would the proposed new bond. (Six other school bond measures were on the ballot at the same time as Measure C and all had exemptions for senior citizens except for the AUSD bond measure.)

There’s an old saying “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” Putting a bond measure on next year’s ballot sounds like a loser to me.

One Comment to “Schools Need Discipline, Not New Bond Measure”

  1. Harry Stoll says:

    Columnist Barbara Zivica’s headline, “School Needs Discipline Not a New Bond Measure,” is illogical. Does she mean if we pass a bond measure there will be no disciplining of thugs? Those are separate issues. Her statement is a right knee jerk reaction about the sky falling if we pay for what’s needed. “What’s needed” is of course open to debate and it’s good that she’s watching public spending. Writing about the modernization bond, she writes,”Ongoing maintenance of facilities is supposed to come out of district operating funds …” That’s a fact but modernizing and ongoing maintenance are not the same.
    She would be more persuasive if she demonstrated that modernization is not needed.
    But to give her her due, she’s right about the Board having a hard look at the consultant industry. There’s a lot of carpetbagging going on there.

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