Antioch School Board approves addendum to MOU with Rocketship charter school, hires consultant for possible bond measure

Split on renewing contracts for social media consultant for Antioch High, Middle schools; considers new flag policy

By Allen Payton

At their meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019, the Antioch Unified School Board voted to approve an addendum to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the district and the Rocketship Delta Prep charter school, ending almost a year of contention between the two organizations. MOU Amendment No. 1 with Rocketship Delta Prep Charter School

The addendum requires Rocketship school’s representative to “promptly meet” with the district’s liaison if the district liaison has any questions about the “Charter School’s operations, finances, or academic program including special education, or compliance with the Charter, the MOU, or the law.” Also, the district liaison will share their questions or concerns in writing and give Rocketship the opportunity to respond.

Carolyn Davies Lynch, VP Operations for Rocketship Public Schools spoke on the issue.

“Thank you for passing the resolution back in May that created a clear path of partnership for Rocketship and AUSD,” she said. “Rocketship has met all requirements. Rocketship is in full compliance with our charter, the MOU and the law.”

“I’ve heard through multiple people, this was a really great process,” Trustee Ellie Householder said. “I think this MOU is more reflective of the actual relationship and I think that this is going to foster a more positive, I hope communications.” She thanked Superintendent Stephanie Anello “for representing us so positively”.

Anello then said, “I would also like to thank Rocketship for their continued collaboration and just working through this. I think this does, like you said, create a more, clear path as for our working relationship during the term of their probation.”

The motion to adopt the MOU was approved on a 5-0 vote.

Hires Consultant for Possible Bond Measure

Householder had a few questions about approving the services agreement in the amount of $20,000 with a consultant “for studies and/or needs assessments that analyze the District’s ability to call for a general obligation bond election.”  C. Lindh Agreement – bond study

“This about the research around the bond measure,” she said. “When I was reading the contract, it said, ‘determine the need to conduct a community survey.’ Part of me was thinking, do we need to evaluate if we need a bond? I’m thinking we do need a bond. I wanted to make sure this particular consultant can actually do a survey.”

“We want to find out from the taxpayers what are their priorities,” Superintendent Stephanie Anello said. “It is an analysis of what’s on the ballot. Who’s most likely to vote.”

“The survey itself is usually $10,000. But this sounds like it’s more services,” Householder added.

The item was approved as part of the 5-0 vote for the consent calendar items.

Splits on Funds for Social Media Contractor for Antioch High and Antioch Middle Schools

The board then held a discussion on two contracts with Trine Gallegos for social media services for Antioch High School for $17,490 and Antioch Middle School for $10,000.

The source of funds is from site-allocated supplemental and concentration grant funds. District staff recommended the board approve the services agreement with Antioch Middle School, described as follows: Services Agreement with Trine Gallegos – AMS 2019-20

“In order to provide parents and students with timely and accessible information, Ms. Gallegos will update the Antioch Middle School website on a regular basis. She will help establish a parent group and assist in communicating student programs and events with community members and leaders. Ms. Gallegos will work closely with the principal to ensure priority information is shared and student programs can develop.”

For the work at Antioch High, “Ms. Gallegos will coordinate a variety of communication and outreach activities for students, parents, staff, and the community on behalf of Antioch High School, including: Services Agreement Trine Gallegos – AHS 2019-20

  • Connecting with community members, businesses, and service groups to enhance, support, and/or donate to a variety of programs;
  • Updating the Antioch High School website to provide the parent-student community with accurate and accessible information (e.g. up-to-date bell schedules, early release information, student accomplishments, media links, meeting details, and other school-related news);
  • Publishing current news items to ensure information generated from staff and the District office is shared;
  • Sharing information via both Antioch High Facebook pages and through local media agencies;
  • Supporting a variety of events and committees, including: Friends of Antioch High School, Scholarship Night, Achievement Night, Senior Project Mentor, Back to School Night, Open House, Principal’s Graduation Team, and as a Special Student programs coordinator;
  • Rebranding outdated materials (e.g. registration information, PTSA handouts, etc.); and
  • Organizing numerous parent-student workshops

“This is the same consultant. This appears to be every year,” Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White said. “I checked with (other districts) and it seems to be Facebook. I don’t know her qualifications. I am not approving this particular vendor for this amount of money. The work is not there.”

“Is this done by each school site?” Trustee Mary Rocha asked.

Anello responded, “This has already been approved by their school site council. So, you would have to let them know in writing and they could appeal. The authority of the governing board…they’re certifying that the school is not supplanting those funds. But, it’s up to the school to decide those funds. The more the school board overrules the local control there has to be significant reasons to do so.”

“I had a couple concerns with these contracts, as well,” Householder stated. “It’s coming out of supplemental and concentration (S and C) grant funds. How does this $27,490 directly impact our socially economically disadvantaged, our foster youth and our English learners?”

“When I look at these two contracts in particular, they’re so broad,” she continued. “I looked at this contract from last year, they’re the same exact services as last year. There were some Facebook analytics given and a list of activities. There’s no update to the services or accomplishments. When we’re looking at cutting music teachers…and librarians and career counselors…I look at this $17,490 and I wonder how much of that could go to keeping that career counselor on.”

“In the spirit of making schools accountable…this particular vendor is on the school site council…did they vote to go forward with this?” Householder said. “There is not as much transparency as we want. I think we should have an intern program…for our students. I think these monies could be better invested somewhere else.”

Sawyer-White then asked, “Why is it the same vendors? I don’t know her background. I’m told ‘don’t say it’s nepotism’. Why is it the same vendors all the time? We don’t have any background. Does she have a degree?”

Rocha responded, “we’re trying to meet our families in different ways. I understand the contracts we have with those schools are the same. It takes a person inside that school site to do outreach. I don’t see how we can go back and say, ‘you can’t do it, because we don’t want you to.’”

“This individual has brought in about $60,000 in donations,” Anello said. “She’s not on the Antioch Middle School’s site council. I don’t know about the Antioch High council. It was a unanimous vote of the council.”

Householder then reiterated her concerns, saying, “When I look at the documentation to verify the work this vendor had done…four hours, two times a week, then three times a week. When we are using S and C funds…we have to be able to reasonably say those funds are directly benefitting low-income, foster youth and English learners. I don’t know if that brought in those dollars…if there’s no documentation.”

“We want to say ‘schools, you’re able to do what you want,’ she continued. “But, let’s just look it over and make sure we’re crossing our T’s and dotting our I’s. This is a $7,400 increase for this vendor for the contract with Antioch High School over last year. I’m not sure we’re getting 100% more services. Looking at this contract over the years, there has been a steady increase in the amount. If Antioch High School wants to put out an RFP for these services and this person is seen as the best person, then go forward with that. But, right now the waters are too muddied and there’s not enough transparency with this particular vendor.”

Rocha then moved approval of both contracts and they passed 3-2 with Sawyer-White and Householder voting against.

Flag Policy

In response to the district approving the flying the LGBTQ flag in June, a proposed policy for flying flags at the district offices and at school sites was discussed during the board meeting. Board Policy 6115 Ceremonies and Observances – with revision options

The board was given three options, and in general settled on Option C, which reads as follows:

“Option C: 1. Commemorative flags may be displayed only as authorized by resolution of the Board of Education and as an expression of the Boards’ official sentiments. 2. Commemorative flags shall be displayed for a period of time that is reasonable or customary for the subject that is to be commemorated, but no longer than ____ days. 3. The District will not display a commemorative flag based on a request from a third party, nor will the District use its flagpoles to sponsor the expression of a third party.”

“I would recommend a commemorative pole, so we have our pole for local and state, and then a separate pole for ceremony flags,” Rocha shared. She was supportive of option C.

“I think that C makes more sense to me,” Householder said.

Sawyer-White then added, “I’m agreeing with option C. I think Trustee Rocha has a valid point of a separate pole.”

“That would be an option, if you give us additional information,” Board President Gary Hack said.

Gibson-Gray suggested the creation of a district flag, and having students help design it.

The item will return with Rocha’s suggestion of a separate pole to fly commemorative flags.

the attachments to this post:

Board Policy 6115 Ceremonies and Observances - with revision options
Board Policy 6115 Ceremonies and Observances – with revision options

Services Agreement with Trine Gallegos - AMS 2019-20
Services Agreement with Trine Gallegos – AMS 2019-20

Services Agreement Trine Gallegos - AHS 2019-20
Services Agreement Trine Gallegos – AHS 2019-20

C. Lindh Agreement - bond study
C. Lindh Agreement – bond study

MOU Amendment No. 1 with Rocketship Delta Prep Charter School
MOU Amendment No. 1 with Rocketship Delta Prep Charter School

One Comment to “Antioch School Board approves addendum to MOU with Rocketship charter school, hires consultant for possible bond measure”

  1. Arne Simonsen says:

    NO to any more AUSD school bonds!!

    We are already paying for TWO AUSD school bonds on our property tax bills; and people in CFD 94-1, CFD 00-1 and CFD 04-1 are even paying additional taxes on their property tax bills.

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