Antioch Schools May Face State Cuts

Board considering June 2012 bond measure to upgrade Antioch High

By Amy Claire

Because of financial difficulties at the state and county levels, the Antioch Unified School District is likely to receive less funding than anticipated this year and in the coming years. An expected $4 billion increase in the state education budget has not materialized, which may lead to significant cuts to public schools.

State schools have only been fully funded five times in the past twenty-one years, and California remains well behind the national average in state educational spending per student, according to Associate Superintendent of Business and Operations Tim Forrester. So far, the AUSD has been able to handle the changes.

“We’ve monitored our expenditures very well,” said Forrester at the November 16 school board meeting.

The district has infused its budget with $23 million in one-time funds, and has followed the county’s suggestion of setting aside money per average daily attendant. But the lack of funds still has the possibility of leaving the district budget with a deficit by the 2013-14 school year. Fortunately, the county will allow for adjustments to ensure that the district does not run out of money, so the general mood was hopeful at the end of Forrester’s presentation.

The board also discussed the increasingly significant need for repairs and renovations at Antioch High School. “The needs are so great,” said Superintendent Donald Gill.

To pay for the repairs, as well as other district projects, the board is considering placing a bond measure on the June 2012 ballot. Forrester said that if the board members wish to proceed, they need to begin taking further steps, such as holding a survey of public voter opinion, preparing for public hearings in February and drafting the actual resolution by March.

School Board Vice-President Claire Smith said that voters deserve to know the details of the project, including when renovations will begin, what they will cover, how long they will last and exactly how much of a tax increase will be required to pay for them. She suggested scaling back the project to encompass only repairs to Antioch High School, concerned that it might not be the appropriate time to ask taxpayers for additional money.

Board Member Walter Ruehlig mentioned that the repairs will be unavoidable eventually, but suggested more evaluation to gauge public opinion before proceeding with the bond election.

Board President Diane Gibson-Gray agreed with Smith that the project should focus on Antioch High School, and said the cost of taking an official voter poll might be better spent on educating residents about the district’s needs. She also asserted that her role as an elected official was to give the constituents a chance to vote. Forrester will continue investigating the bond measure, and the board decided to discuss the resolution after more information had been gathered.

Only one person addressed the board during the designated time for speakers from the community. A man stated that his grandson, a freshman at Deer Valley High School, had been beaten by older students a week ago. He said that the district’s response left him with the impression that the board does not take bullying seriously. A board member said that someone from the district would contact him to address his concerns.

The meeting began with a flag salute led by the boy scouts who had attended the meeting to earn badges. The board also heard updates from student representatives of Bidwell High School and Deer Valley High School, who reported good news in both academics and social activities at their schools.

The next school board meeting will be held at 7 p.m., December 14 at 510 G. Street in Antioch.

2 Comments to “Antioch Schools May Face State Cuts”

  1. Arne Simonsen says:

    There is no relationship between the AUSD receiving less ADA from the state next year and a capital expense like renovating Antioch High School.

    Schools districts are supposed to be using a portion of their ADA for renovations, but school districts for decades have failed to do that, and instead want the homeowners to pay a second time with either a parcel tax or bond measure.

    Too bad the AUSD Board and staff don’t seem to realize that the homeowners of Antioch (and portions of Oakley and Pittsburg that are in the AUSD) are and have been struggling for the past three years with decreased home values, lost jobs, unemployment benefits which are running out and their wallets are only keeping them alive day-to-day.

    Again the AUSD Trustees have failed to ask their staff at a public meeting where the monies from CFD 94-1, CFD 00-1 and CFD 04-1 are and why they are not being used. These are Mello-Roos districts totally under the control of the AUSD.

  2. Mary Peinado says:

    I sent an email a couple months ago to superintendent Gill to address serious on campus fighting at DV. I asked once again as parents and I have for years, that the district make the safety of our students #1 priority. I asked why AUSD can’t take effective approach like Lakewood District does with students acting violent being detained by police until their parents pick them up. An officer is desperately needed on our 2 larger high schools. Dr Gill assigned an Assistant Sup who did superficial research and predictably came up with no ideas to decrease violence. He praised her for her dedicated research, which is her job, and did nothing to satisfy my inquiry. District staff needs to take cuts in pay if they mismanaged ADA funds that could have gone to AHS. I’m sick of parents concerned about safety and violence getting to hear only fake sentiment.

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