Antioch School Board hears complaints about high rental charges for football stadium

Eels Stadium at Antioch High. File photo by Luke Johnson

Vinson, Sawyer-White want greater reimbursement for conference expenses

By Robbie Pierce

At their October 17, 2017 meeting the Antioch School Board was given an earful from one youth sports organization about what they feel are overcharges for the use of Antioch High’s Eels Stadium football field.

“There is no justification for what we’re being charged… There is something wrong here,” said Arrieanna Lombard, representing the Delta Valley Wolfpack Football and Cheer Club. “There is something really wrong with what we’re being charged.”

Lombard, via a speaker card, spoke multiple times during the most recent Antioch Board of Education meeting held Oct. 11, to raise awareness of an issue with fees levied against her club by the board for using Antioch High School facilities and fields. The fees were, according to her claim, in excess of $2000 per game, while school football teams – her club is not affiliated with any school district, but leases the rights to use the grounds for practices and games – are only charged around $700 to rent the field for the whole day.

The issue regarding Wolfpack’s fees was actually given a dedicated spot on the agenda for the meeting by Trustee and Board Vice President Debra Vinson under Item 12 – Items for Discussion by Board as sub-items 1 and 2, “Concession Stands” and “Direct Cost Analysis for Use of Custodial Fees and Custodial Cost”. Both were requested to be on the agenda by Vinson. Lombard spoke during the review of each item, as well as during Item 6 – Public Comments about 30 minutes beforehand.

On an evening in which one trustee, Diane Gibson-Gray, was absent, student delegates were asked to stay home due to air quality concerns, and several items were skipped outright due to no speakers being present for them, Lumbard’s impassioned speeches were the most charged portions of the meeting.

“We’ve been dealing with this issue since August, and it’s now October and we still don’t have any resolution on it,” Lombard said. “We would not be here if there was communication and transparency.”

She explained that the Civic Center Act is meant to, in her words, “ensure that school facility and fields are available to the public for acceptable use pursuant to the board policies and procedures.”

That Act clearly outlines the rules and guidelines for the use of school facilities by extracurricular organizations, and also strictly and clearly states what can and cannot be included in the fees for using them. The Act was amended this year by SB 1404, which added extra items that could factor into the total charge as “capital costs”.

Lombard had no issue with the addition of fees, instead her problem – and Wolfpacks’s problem – was the way the implementation of SB 1404 was handled and announced.

“Timing matters… the Wolfpack were notified about an increase in fees the last week of July, well our season starts the beginning of August, so we had no time to make changes according to fees that you’re going to raise,” she stated. “That’s not fair.”

The board seemed to very sympathetic to Lumbard’s issue, and made it clear the extra cost was an accident.

“Sometimes we get praised, sometimes we get criticized. I would have to say this is one of those times we deserve some criticism,” Board President Walter Ruehlig observed. “But, I would like to clarify I don’t believe [the extra fees are] from intent. I don’t think anyone up here wants to sock it to our kids in sports.”

Associate Superintendent for Business and Operations, Teresa Santamaria added that her biggest concern is “to make sure that we are charging them fairly, and not overcharging them.”

“I actually brought this on because I’d like for it to be resolved,” Vinson explained. “We’ve been dealing with this issue, actually, since I’ve been on the board. So, I think we need to really put some energy into really trying to resolve this and making it a priority. These are our children, this is our community, and we owe them that.”

The board as a whole agreed, as they all sought to research the issue, find out exactly how the fees became so exorbitant, and have a resolution to discuss by the next meeting.

“Given that it’s been delayed this long, I think we need to fast-track the item,” Superintendent Stephanie Anello commented.

Reimbursement of Trustees’ Conference Expenses

Outside of reviewing their process for levying fees for school facility usage, the board also took time to discuss two board policies regarding reimbursing board members for expenses associated with attending education related conferences.

Vinson formally requested a change to Board Policy 9240, which sets up procedure for board members to be reimbursed for any expenses during trips to educational or training conferences. Vinson’s request is to allow the district to pay the bill upfront, via invoice, for any official California School Board Association events instead of having reimbursement being the only option, telling the story of how one event she attended recently was willing to use an invoice, but she was not able to take that option because Board Policy 9240 did not allow for it.

President Ruehlig said such a request was “fair and reasonable”, and stated the board would likely discuss it at next meeting.

Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White, in the final sub-item, cited that Board Policy 9352 sets a flat $400 reimbursement to every board member who attends a meeting, but allows for extra payment in exceptional circumstance, and requested extra payment for the four-hour meeting in September in which the board decided to discipline trustee Vinson. Superintendent Anello committed to do research into relevant policy and legislation to find out how much reimbursement they could ask for, citing a recent court case that might have affected the previous limits.

Other Board Action

Beyond that, the board passed two resolutions for immediate action, one legally declaring that every school in the district has “sufficient” textbooks and instructional materials (such a declaration is required by Education Code 60119 and Senate Bill 550) and one authorizing Provisional Internship Permits, or PIPs, for three teachers in the district; Melissa Holmes-Molina, Steven Nosanchuk and Jennifer Uresti.

The board also collectively and unanimously accepted two new board policies that were presented in a revised form for Second Reading and Action – 1312.3, a revised policy for Uniform Complaint Procedures and 5146, a new policy dealing with policies and procedures for married/pregnant/parenting students.

The meeting closed with a brief discussion of planning for future meetings. Vinson expressed a desire for a study session for strategic planning within the next few months to discuss systemic issues within the school district such as declining enrollment. Sawyer-White made the point that according to Governor Brown, California is experiencing record numbers of homeless and asked the district to do something about it. Anello pledged to get some numbers together for the board.

Pierce is a new reporter for the Antioch Herald, is a student at Los Medanos College and writes for the school newspaper, The Experience.

13 Comments to “Antioch School Board hears complaints about high rental charges for football stadium”

  1. Nancy Fernandez says:

    Some times there are long meetings and sometimes there are short meetings. This would average out. No, there should be no extra money for a long meeting unless you are willing to give up some of the 400 for short meetings. Give me a break. I can remember city council meetings that went to 2AM and no one got an extra dime. What makes Sawyer-White so special?

  2. Clarita S. says:

    Concerns and objections, especially harsh ones to any items and doings of the AUSD trustees should be voiced at their regular meeting instead of being a keyboard crusader online!

    • Publisher says:

      Clarita S.
      Thank you for reading the Herald and taking the time to comment.
      But, what does your comment mean and to whom is it directed, please?
      The complaint that was brought up by the woman from the youth football league was made in public at the school board meeting.
      So, who is the “keyboard crusader online” that you refer to?
      Allen Payton, Publisher

      • BelleWinsAgain says:


        When are you going to publish an article about the failed, as you put it, “Jeff Belle Bill”?

        • Publisher says:

          I plan to write one some time this week.
          But, just so you know, Jeff Belle would not have been affected by this bill, as he already was given a diversion program for his violation.
          So it’s veto is not a victory for him. But, a loss for all of us voters.
          Allen Payton, Publisher

          • BelleWinsAgain says:


            I would disagree with you. I would very much say this was a victory for Jeff Belle. He doesn’t have a negative bill created in his name. The voters don’t lose anything. There still is a fine of 1k on the books. 5k isn’t a bid difference. Voters need to be smarter.

  3. RJB says:

    Definitely a loss for the voters and yes Jeff Belle you are right about one thing, voters need to be smarter to not vote for liars who deceive the public. Also go back to school Mr. Belle $5000 vs $1000 is a $4K difference. That’s a BIG difference in math and accountability.

    • BelleWinsAgain says:

      I was stating that 1k was on the books, and the new amount would have been 5k. The amounts, to me, aren’t a big difference. I know their is a 4k difference between the two. If you can get 1k, you can get 5k. I’m not Jeff Belle. Publisher could copy and paste an article about this, like he does most of this stuff, but he doesn’t want to, because it makes Belle look good.

      • Publisher says:


        Your assumption of why I haven’t written and posted an article about the bill being vetoed is incorrect.
        I simply have not had the time to get to it as I’ve been busy with my three other businesses over the past two weeks and was out of town at a business conference from Thursday through Saturday night, and I don’t work on Sundays until after 6 p.m.

        When I get to the article, it will be posted. But it really doesn’t change things for Mr. Belle who was prosecuted and settled for a diversion program. The veto of the bill is not a victory for him. It’s merely a loss for the voting public, since the fine and penalty for lying on a ballot statement which goes out to the public is less than what it is for lying on the nomination papers which only remain within the offices of the elections officials. That fine and penalty includes up to three years in jail. That to me appears backwards. Lying on a document that goes out to all the voters is much more egregious than on an internal document that the public doesn’t ever see.

        Whether or not we publish an article about the veto of the bill will really have no effect on Mr. Bell’s public reputation. He’s damaged that enough on his own, already. We’ll see if the voters will view his service and accomplishments in office as greater than his indiscretions, should he run for re-election or another office, next year.

        Frankly, Mr. Belle has only won once and that was when he was elected in 2014. Having lost his home through eviction because he didn’t have a job or earned enough income during the campaign nor after he was elected, and then losing his wife, shows me that he unfortunately cares more about feeding his own ego and holding public office than being a responsible man and husband.

        Furthermore, while I appreciate you reading the Herald, you must not read it very often as you would see that our reporters and I do much more than just cut and paste. That’s done for press releases not original content in the articles our reporters and I write. So, please keep reading.

        Allen Payton

      • RJB says:

        Oh Belle, you little rascal. Always up to your little games. At the end of the day, the only person you’re lying to is yourself.

      • Publisher says:

        Here you go –
        and here –
        I believe you will see by this article and the previous, related one it links to that I’ve been fair to Mr. Belle, providing both his and his attorney’s side of the story.
        Allen Payton, Publisher

  4. Sherra says:

    Nancy Fernandez, Amen! Say no to extra reimbursements. I also think the policy should be by reimbursement only and not invoice. They will think twice before incurring a bill if they have to submit it plus no doubt they are getting some type of perk using a credit card. Allen, thank you for your service to get the word out when we can’t be there.

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