Antioch School Board members hear about preschool, testing concerns, question expenses and school databases

By John Crowder

At the February 11, 2015, meeting of the Antioch School Board members heard from representatives of Kid’s Club Preschool about the importance of early childhood education. They also listened to concerns expressed by one local resident about a new testing program, aligned with the Common Core, and continued to question staff about expenditures. In addition, Board Member Barbara Cowan raised questions about school databases and Board Member Debra Vinson again requested a review of the Antioch school district’s personnel structure.

Four representatives of Kid’s Club Preschool, located at 800 Gary Avenue in Antioch, addressed the board. According to their website, the preschool, “serves children that have been identified by the State of California as being low-income/at risk.”

The speakers said that, in addition to working with up to 300 children, the school facilitates monthly parent education meetings. Each of the four speakers touted the benefits of early childhood education and invited board members to take a tour of the school.

Following the meeting, Mark Mokski, Executive Director of Kid’s Club Preschool, elaborated on the comments he and his staff made.

Numerous nationally accepted research studies indicate that a child that has attended a high-quality preschool program is more likely to hold a job, will commit fewer crimes, and is more likely to graduate from high school,” he said. “Increased academic performance becomes evident with higher achievement on various intellectual and language tests during the early childhood years, on school achievement tests in both elementary and middle school, and on literacy tests later in life. Overall, a high-quality preschool program provides the foundation for success later in life with a return of between $7 and $16 for every dollar spent on preschool.”

Parent Julie Young, who frequently speaks against the implementation of Common Core at school board meetings, discussed her recent attendance at a “parent training night” that took place at Black Diamond Middle School. The presentation had been given by Essence Phillips, Director of Educational Services for the district, and provided parents with information about the new Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test being given to students this year.

Young complained that, among other things, the testing, mostly done on computers, may take more than eleven hours to complete, and that it is predicted that 62% of those taking the test will fail. She went on to say that the test has no reliability, will allow for no reasonable conclusions to be drawn from it, and that it will be very costly to implement. She suggested that parents opt out of the test.

As they have done in recent meetings, board members continued to question district staff regarding expenditures, in this case those listed in a Purchase Order Report. They asked for explanations about money being spent on a crossing guard study, about a penalty fee assessed by a county health agency, about expenses incurred for equipment rentals, and the number of tutoring agencies the district employs. Tim Forrester, Associate Superintendent – Business and Operations, responded to each of the questions raised by board members.

At the end of the meeting, when it came time for board members to discuss future agenda items, Cowan stated that she had been hearing concerns expressed by parents regarding school database websites. She said that parents had complained of inaccurate data on two websites utilized by the district, and wondered about the compatibility of the two systems.

Superintendent Dr. Donald Gill, told the board that he would ensure that his staff investigated the matter and that staff would provide them with information regarding their findings.

Finally, Vinson asked to take a look at the personnel structure for the district, saying it was related to the Local Control Accountability Plan.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Antioch School Board takes place on February 25. Meetings are held at the school district office, located at 510 G Street, and typically begin at 7:00 p.m.

One Comment to “Antioch School Board members hear about preschool, testing concerns, question expenses and school databases”

  1. Julio says:

    I have come to appreciate Julie Young, though some certainly do not.

    Mrs Young is at least in their fighting for the children and I certainly do agree with her on Common Core. She seems to do her research.

    Good article Mr. Crowder, Thank you.

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