Antioch Unified School District Approves Two Charter Schools, Set to Lose $25 Million in Funding

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On Wednesday, the Antioch Unified School District approved charter petitions for East Bay Tech Middle School Academy and High School Academy on 3-2 votes in a meeting that lasted more than 5-hours.

As a result, District staff anticipate losing $25 million in revenue over the next several years.

In favor was Debra Vinson, Chrystal Sawyer-White and Walter Ruehlig. Opposed were Gary Hack and Diane Gibson-Gray.

The vote came after staff recommended the Board deny the petition based on an analysis by legal council in which numerous deficiencies were identified in the petition along with concerns related to the petition and the proposed Charter School’s operations.  HE also stated that that more than one of the legal grounds for denial were met.  Specifically, the petition does not provide a reasonably comprehensive description of several essential charter elements and the petitioners are demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the proposed education program.

Megan Moilanen, lead petitioner for East Bay Tech Academy, spoke during public comments that there was an incredible urgency to approve the petition tonight.

“Let’s cut to the chase. AS 79% of the African American students at Antioch High School and 77% of the Latino students at Antioch High School did not meet the standards for English language arts in last year’s CAST test as 11th graders. Shockingly, 98% of African American students and 91% of Hispanic students did not meet the standards in mathematics in last years CAST test,” said Moilanen. “As a teacher and an educational leader, I cannot justify or rationalize these results, the story these results tell is IT IS clear we need urgent change now. Our students are more than test scores, but this is an urgent social justice issue and you can make a significant and immediate change in the future of thousands of students with your vote.”

She further highlighted the petition came from a strong desire of Antioch residents saying they could do better.

Bill Morones, co-petitioner for the East Bay Tech Academy, stated their petition was strong and was supported by the California Charter School Association and encouraged the board to approve the petition.

“We have read the report that was provided by your attorney, it is full of inaccuracies, our rebuttal you have in front of you, it is very strong and it disputes all of the information that was provided by your attorney,” explained Morones. “We strongly believe that students and families should have a choice to go to the school of their choice.

Sara Savacool, an Antioch High School teacher, shared it was hard to hear the numbers and they were not immune to what is said about the school when you crunch the numbers. But stated the testing was recently rolled out, and the petitioners should find a better argument because the students were accomplishing a lot of things outside test scores.  Instead, she urged the Board to follow the money.

“Board, I cannot stress enough, please follow the money. Of course THE petition is solid, a Netflix founder backed it and they have tons of money to make it that way. You can send in all the suits you want,” explained Savacool. “Follow the money, I am against private for profit charters.”

Ron Leone, working as an administrator at Clayton Valley Charter School and who is also a candidate for Contra Costa Superintendent of Schools, said “it shouldn’t matter whether it’s a private school like De La Salle or magnet school like Dozier-Libbey or traditional schools or charter schools”.

Leone then used the balance of his allotted time as for a political commercial for his candidacy for Contra Costa County Superintendent as a campaign stump speech.

“If they are high-performing, we should support them because it’s what is best for our kids,” said Leone. “If it’s charter schools people fear, I will tell you that I believe in accountability and transparency and I do believe that quality oversight is needed at the county board of education and I will guarantee that as the next Contra Costa County superintendent I will provide for that.

Jessica Weston, a kindergarten teacher at Marsh Elementary shared her experience as she worked at a charter school for four years and warned the board how profit eventually becomes more important than students.

“Is it really a choice when Antioch already offers those same services? Anytime that a profit becomes more important than students, that is a problem. And that is exactly how these for-profit schools run,” explained Weston. “Both my former school and management company closed because profit became the most important thing to those in charge. Profit became more important than purchasing curriculum, than pest control, than purchasing toilet paper and school supplies. The CEO salary and the half-million per month lawyer fee, were more important than keeping a WASC Accreditation and paying into teacher’s retirement. I am short on my CALSTRS because this company took my money and did not pay it. Profit is never more important than our students and their education. Please vote no on these charter schools tonight.”

Robert Strickler, president of the Antioch Education Association, said this is 100% about the students and said he hoped the Board read the staff report as it listed many of the short-comings of the petition which included financial issues, signature issues, administrative issues, governance issues, issues with racial and ethnic balance, etc.

“Rather than approving these questionable charters, we should focus on providing more to our schools, more to our students, not giving the money away to charters which only harm the students of AUSD and providing them with less,” stated Strickler. “Say no to these charters.”

Velma Wilson, a patent of two Antioch HS students, said how it was disgusting to hear how people are talking about the students in the district.

“It’s disgusting to hear some of you who choose to come to these meetings, and I can count on one hand how many meetings you come to, to try and be a proactive source in helping this District to educate and to support our kids and these teachers,” said Wilson. “Where are you at when you should be at open house? Where are you at when you should be at back to school night? Where are you when they are asking for families to come and speak at the LCAP and be a part of the solution? None of you are showing up to that. Think about that.”

Mary Rocha spoke out against the charter petition because it didn’t have equity access for all.

“I am concerned for special education students and English learners. I feel like they would be eliminated from the charter school system,” said Rocha. “We do not pick or choose our students, we serve all students here in this district. I believe in local control, not a board that is not elected—selected from the corporation and the money should stay within the District.”

Deb Hubbard, an 8th grade teacher at Antioch Middle School, thanked the five-member elected board for being elected by the community instead of a board where two members were appointed.

“Lets just say it, THEY ARE here tonight because the last board with two appointees let Rocketship slip in here and that’s why they are here. If Rocketship weren’t here, this Middle School and High School petition wouldn’t even be before you,” stated Hubbard. “The law states you must accept their petition if they offer something that we don’t already offer. I have heard a lot of Trumpisms from the other side. I am sorry but I DO NOT hear a very very strong petition. I heard tremendously doing this, very??? lots of benefits, a lot of stuff going on but I haven’t heard a lot of specifics.”

Hubbard continued by saying two-weeks ago this District saw a robot brought in by a deer valley after school club and tonight a robotic car by 7th grade girls as well as heard about a drama club.

“We have so much going on, I haven’t heard anything from the other side,” said Hubbard. “What I hear is choice, what I hear is Tech Academy, EDGE, Dozier-Libbey, the Leadership Academy. We have choice, I just ask this board to follow the law and find out what it is they offer that we don’t already have here.”

Rosemary Louise Saint, CTA Staff Consultant and union leader for Antioch teachers and also for Clayton Valley teachers, who stated they do not oppose all charters, but did encourage the Board to vote no on this one.

“CTA is not against all charters and in fact WE partner with charters and work with charters across the state. However, we do not support the quick start-up for profit charters that offer no new program that the local school district is offering,” said Saint. “I encourage you to vote no on these two charters for the following reasons: One, a year or so ago you approved Rocketship, however, the District has not yet felt the financial and impact of that school yet. Why, because it hasn’t started yet. I ask the board to first see what one charter does for your district.”

Richard Pagano, CEO of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce, shared how the Antioch Chamber supports and endorses the adoption of the charter.

“The Antioch Chamber of Commerce supports the adoption of the East Bay Tech Academy at the AUSD level to ensure local oversight and funding. To do anything else, either the County or State would receive the funding,” said Pagano. “The chamber continues to build and support a long range of efforts to generate high academic achievement and critical skills that results in employable graduates who can pursue the goals of their futures. The Antioch Chamber also supports individual choices in all aspects of our community, including educational choices. As with Rocketship, the Chamber continues to support parental choice in education. We believe that additional options for parents of where to send their children provides more opportunity for our business community to grow.”

Joy Motts, a former school board member, spoke against the charter saying how before Prop 13, California was number 1 in education and how that loss of funds has impacted education.

“This decision is not about a better way or better teachers, its about money,” stated Motts. “Taking money away from existing Antioch schools is not the answer… it is your job to protect the solvency of AUSD. Giving this money to an outside group takes away your ability to oversee and hold accountable those dollars that the citizens of this community have entrusted to you and would be irresponsible for you to give this money away to an outside agency.”

Board Discussion:

According to AUSD legal Council , he shared the reasons why they were recommending the Board deny the petition.

  • Financially – they were projecting unrealistic enrollment which included 521 students in year ONE. No identification of where they will locate and what type of facility. Budget speculated on funding amounts they would receive without information on facility costs
  • Past History & Involvement — given the close connection with Clayton Valley, they may bring the same governance issues to Antioch.
  • A reasonable comprehension description of 10 of 15 elements in the education code. Issues in governance, education programs and a failure to describe how the charter school will meet the needs of special education, English LANGUAGE learners and socially economic disadvantaged students they plan to serve. Legal explained they can’t compare Antioch to Clayton because Claytons serves just 2.8% English LANGUAGE Learners (ELL) and microeconomicly disadvantaged is 19.2% which is not representative of Antioch’s student population.
  • The petition allows the Charter to make changes to Governance and operations without District approval, which could circumvent the District’s oversight and authority.

Also stated, that although there was a lot of support in the room tonight, the petitioner did not satisfy the legal grounds for approval and stated his recommendation was to deny the charter petition for the Middle School.

For clarification to the public at the request of Trustee Debra Vinson, she wanted the public to be aware what was submitted to the Board. The petitioners on May 9 submitted a rebuttal to the staff report and recommendation—an 18-page document provided to the Board Members.

The petitioners handed the Board Members the document as they walked into the meeting. However at least one board member received it at 1 in the afternoon

Trustee Walter Ruehlig asked how many charters this organization had written in the past?  The charter school’s legal counsel stated, just two. The petitioners confirmed it was their first one.

“It’s a natural question to have when a petition is deemed this flawed. Your first question is hmm, is this the first time they have written it? ARE THEY rank amateurs?That was just my curiosity how much experience has gone in behind this and who else endorsed and assisted with this application,” stated Ruehlig.

Moilanen replied the application was “thoroughly vetted application”. She referenced the 18-page document to further clarify the petition while stating they were confident it met all the legal requirements to move forward.

“We were very surprised to receive the denial,” stated Moilanen.

Ruehlig asked Moilanan to address the allegation that the petition doesn’t expand it or offer anything unique to the middle schools.

Moilanan explained they look at college and career readiness while preparing for jobs that don’t even exist yet.

“One of the things we have infused in our curriculum is our 21st century skills, utilizing elective courses where students can participate in coding and digital citizenship, but also a real focus on personalized instruction and interventions,” explained Moilanan. “What makes the petition and program substantially different is our focus on relationships and our building and fostering relationships among students and staff.”

She called their market difference the equivalent of a “speed boat vs. the titanic”.

Morones chimed in adding they are also offering a daily advisory period for all students to meet with an adult to address academic concerns, along with social issues or home issues. Teachers will know each student BY name.

Trustee Chrystal Sawyer-White explained her son is special needs, getting ready to go into middle school and wanted to know what they offer the special needs community since there were criticisms stated.

Moilanen stated since they were a public school, they would be representative of the AUSD students and they would be providing those services in the least restrictive environment based on their IEP.

Trustee Debra Vinson asked about the suspension and expulsion policy saying they have a high amount of expulsion and a disproportionate number of African American and Latino students expelled in the District.

Moilanen explained that they had a proactive social and emotional program that they believe will eliminate behaviors that lead to suspensions and expulsions.

“We are bound to the same ED code for suspension and expulsion as AUSD or any other public school,” said Moilanen. “A couple of things that make our school different… the advisory program, behavioral interventions can be made quickly, and we can be responsive. We have a targeted case management program. Additionally, we are very keen on character education and making sure that if a student does act in a way that doesn’t align to the community expectations of the school, they are addressed in school. We believe keeping students in school is best.”

Moilanen explained they have a strong approach to relationship building and character building within the petition.

Ruehlig asked the petitioners to address the demographics and the allegation they are not prepared for Antioch.

Moilanen stated that was a fact, but that they have a 99% graduation rate while explaining the number one task was to close the achievement gap and get students on grade level.

Morones explained that nearly a decade ago he worked within the AUSD after being recruited out of Newark Memorial HS and has experience working with Hispanics, African American students and meeting all achievement targets and graduation rates.

When asked about Board Structure, Morones replied that their intent/goal would be to have the meetings in Antioch.

Vinson then questioned the petitioners in what their response was to the charge that they don’t present a reasonably comprehensive description of employee qualifications.

Moilanen replied that every teacher who works at the school would be a fully credentialed teacher and they provide job descriptions and qualifications for all jobs.

Gibson-Gray, who made the motion to deny the petition, explained her reasoning for the denial.

“Charter Schools and parent choice are here to stay, as an elected official, its my obligation to protect and support public schools, public education, not charter school public education; my role is a public school supporter,” explained Gibson-Gray. “Approving the charters at a local level impacts our remaining students. I am going to use Rocketship as an example. It was approved last November in 2016. To date, we have spent over $56,000 in attorney fees, countless hours of staff time that will not be reimbursed AND the administrative fee income will not be paid until Rocketship begins operation in 2018-19. AUSD will receive just 1% of the revenue, estimated $27,000.  You can see we are already in ARREARS.”

Gibson-Gray highlighted they are still crafting the Memorandum of Understanding with Rocketship which defines the roles where AUSD has supervisorial oversight IN which were countless hours of staff time that will not be reimbursed.

“Going forward, staff costs to monitor charters whether it be this one or other ones will most likely exceed the 1% that we receive,” explained Gibson-Gray. “As I said, they are not going away and they are supporting school board candidates during elections, I am on my third term and last election Rocketship ran support for 3-candidates, two of them lost and one of them won the election.

Gibson-Gray hoped the community will understand the impacts at the AUSD level when approving a charter school here.

“it can be approved anyway along the line, next it can go to the County, THEN they can go to the state, it will not impact our remaining students if its approved at any of the remaining levels,” explained Gibson-Gray. “My business colleagues were here, and I was a business woman for 28-years and I am going to use Safeway as an example Lets say Safeway is the only grocery store in town and now Whole Foods wants to come to town, but Safeway has to help them through oversight, financials, doing everything they do to exist as a Safeway, they have to help Whole Foods WHo is going to be more successful?  Whole Foods. CRYSTAL SAWYER SAID BUT WE HAVE A TRADER JOES. GIBSON-GRAY SAID IT WAS an ANALOGY to make it more understandable.”

Gibson-Gray asked her fellow school board members to support AUSD public education and consider the impact of an approval at this level.

“Charter Schools in my single opinion should be approved at the County or State level,” stated Gibson-Gray.

Sawyer-White stated she did not agree, nor did she understand Gibson-Grays analogy.

“We need to build from the bottom up,” said Sawyer-White. “I just think Antioch needs to move up into the 21st century and its an opportunity, Antioch Charter, they started from the bottom up, this is not Rocketship, this is a whole different ball game. So I move to approve the charter petition.”

A reminder was given to Sawyer-White that there was already a motion on the table.

Vinson highlighted that Dozier-Libbey Medical High School was the only school in Antioch TO receive an award for outstanding education, but that was for Latino English language learner students.

“So we have gains with the work we are doing with Latino students and families, but we continue to lose African American students with their achievement and that matters. It matters across all domains in society,” said Vinson. “Charter Schools are public schools, but are charter schools the answer? Not necessarily. When you look at the research and the statistics dependent of where they are, sometimes its equal, sometimes it’s not.”

Vinson pointed how Rocketship, wherever they are located, took home multiple awards—it’s a combination of teaching, relationships, climate, social-emotional support and accountability.

“Antioch has approximately, 17,000 students but if you have only 1-parent out of 17,000 students championing the services of students, we have a problem,” stated Vinson. “We have had a problem for numerous years. We have a problem in this district and I do know parents want a choice; I’ve received numerous letters.”

Vinson also commented that an issue that concerns her was if the charter is denied here and to the County Board of Education, they will be able to do anything they want within the District. Within the State, they can do whatever they want in our district.

“I have a problem with that,” said Vinson. “Is this the best petition in front of us? Probably not. Are we going to get more? Probably, maybe. Do parents want choice, yes they do. Parents want choice…. What we have to figure out is a system that is going to benefit our system. I don’t think it is an either or.”

Vinson said she liked the idea of the AUSD Board having the authority while noting she asked very specific questions about David Linzey which were perceived by some as “personal”.

“I would be disappointed to find out that Mr. Lindsay has anything to do with any of this and I would be willing to put a caveat in that says if Mr. Lindzey has anything to do with the East Bay Tech Middle School and High School and that if the Charter is granted, that it is immediately revoked,” said Vinson, who then asked the attorney if that was something they could put in the agreement.

Vinson then stated with those conditions, she would move to approve the charter.

Ruehlig stated he was wrestling with the decision up until Wednesday afternoon and according to a study he found, he highlighted about 41% of Charter Schools perform about the same as traditional public schools in the same area, but 29% perform better than the traditional school and 31% perform worse.

“This is not a silver bullet. Charter schools aren’t a guarantee, but when they succeed they really do well, the ones that make,” said Ruehlig. “By the way, I would agree on Mr. Lindzey, no personal affront to him, but I would be just as happy if we kept him out of the equation and start fresh if we went ahead.”

Ruehlig admitted his own personal feelings on charters were a “mixed bag” saying he has voted for 2-charters and voted against 2 charters during his career.

“I don’t feel I have the right to obstruct the wishes of hundreds, if not thousands of Antioch families,” said Ruehlig. “It’s their decision, not my decision. It really doesn’t matter how I feel about charter schools. To me, it’s a mixed bag, there are good things about them and there are bad things about them.”

Ruehlig added that he believed the law was flawed which should be written so a school district is compensated when a charter school moves into an area and reimburse school districts for legal fees in going over the evaluations.

He closed his comments by saying with a heavy heart that because of the law, he would be voting in support of this charter.

Gibson-Gray noted she would never have the speaking eloquence of Vinson or Ruehlig but noted there was a real cost in providing oversight to charter schools.

“I am not against parent choice, I am against the cost to provide oversight,” stated Gibson-Gray. “It’s going to get approved ; I can count to three, but what I was trying to say is I am elected as a public official for public schools and that is why I am voting to not support.”

Board President Gary Hack stated his whole life was spent in public schools.

“Its my job, it’s my job to accept anybody that walks through that door and have public education make them a better person,” said Hack. “Public education takes anyone who walks through the door and does what they can possibly do to make them a better person. Do I approve OF charter schools by definition, no, because I think there are differences and I think charter schools harm what is left of public schools”

In a 2-3 vote to deny the petition, the denial did not pass with Hack and Gibson-Gray supporting the denial. Ruehlig, Sawyer-White and Vinson all opposed the denial.

According to legal, they advised if the board was to approve the charter, they include conditions that would be verbally agreed upon tonight to address a series of issues—with a timeline into the summer.

Vinson stated she wanted it in writing saying she didn’t know the individual or anything against the individual.

“I just want it in writing that this individual will have no executive authority or hands on authority with the middle or high school. I want it in writing, I want it as one of the condition,” said Vinson.

Gibson-Gray asked for clarification on the conditions and for Vinson to explain what her motion was on Mr. Lindzey

“To not be involved in any executive decisions involving the middle school or high school with no administrative responsibility,” stated Vinson.

Vinson then made a motion to approve the charter with conditions that included that the finding of facts, operations, special education, and budget are addressed. That there be no executive involvement at the middle school by Mr. David Lindsay and that the Superintendent or designee negotiate an MOU by Sept. 28, 2018.

Gibson-Gray clarified that if they did not meet the conditions, it would revert back to a denial. Legal agreed.

Vinson stated they shouldn’t automatically be denied, but rather it come back before the board and they have a discussion in an open meeting and make the decision to deny at that meeting.

Legal stated to avoid confusion, the petitioners could agree to a 30-day extension to address all the issues. At that point, Moilanen stated they did not agree to that.

“We would like it to be agreed upon as written tonight and that is what we are willing to agree to,” stated Moilanen.

Legal stated they did not agree to the petition as written.

Moilanen shot back, “We provided the findings and this discussion has not included us, all the findings are there.”

Legal again strongly suggested approving this with conditions.

Vinson stated she just received the findings tonight.

“To be fair to me as a trustee. For me to do my due diligence as an elected board member, I’d like the opportunity to look at these findings,” said Vinson.

Vinson restated the motion to approve the charter tonight with the following conditions which included the superintendent/designee to negotiate an MOU on the findings of fact which included revised budget, special education and operations by Sept. 28, 2018. Once the Superintendent has satisfied and the findings are satisfied that the board in October come back to ratify that this has been satisfied.

Gibson-Gray stated on this motion, she didn’t hear the language on Mr. Lindzey.

“I want to make it clear from my perspective that I don’t think we have the right to tell them who and what they can hire for what positions,” said Gibson-Gray.

Vinson clarified that Mr. Lindzey was no longer “expressly” part of her motion.

“I am concerned we are making conditions on the fly and I still think it’s a challenge to public education,” said Gibson-Gray.

Gibson-Gray asked for legal clarification on what happens if the petitioner did not meet the conditions where it was confirmed by legal that the District would be relying on good faith.

“There is no safety net, I am just pointing that out for the record,” stated Gibson-Gray.

Vinson stated they have already addressed the findings in the document they submitted tonight, talk about the budget, but they didn’t have a chance to look at it—they are putting an MOU in place in good faith.

Sawyer-White then pulled back her “second” which then caused Vinson motion to fail.

Gibson-Gray then explained they had a petitioner who had a defective findings based on our attorney who we paid to advise us.

“The petitioner is not willing to give us 30-days to revise a application and a motion so we come back so we are clear on what we are expecting out of that. Given that, I would recommend that we deny the petition at this level,” stated Gibson-Gray. “Let the cure and correct and go to county. I would make that a motion.”

Ruehlig stated if they could just approve the petition with an understanding that an MOU would be established.

Vinson explained they had already addressed the concerns, but the District has not had a chance to review it.

“That is my point, they don’t want an extension” said Gibson-Gray. “Here we sit, trying to work it out on the fly. I don’t think it’s the best way to do business.

Vinson noted that her motion would ensure an MOU would be drafted and there was nothing harmful in it.

Gibson-Gray explained, “The concern I have with the current motion is its on the table and if for some reason if the findings are not cured or corrected, whatever language you want to use, its still automatically approved. On Sept. 28, if they didn’t meet the requirements and there are still challenges, it still goes forward.”

Legal confirmed with Gibson-Gray it would be automatically approved.

Ruehlig stated he appreciated Vinson’s persistence on this but they were going around trying to get an agreement.

Vinson then stated “going forward, why not have an agreement tonight, let them work out the details of the MOU and go forward. What is the problem that?”

Ruehlig asked the petitioners if they would have an issue working out an MOU.

“Ya, if its approved tonight. I can assure you that all 15-elements were met and the turnaround was easy for us,” said Moilanen. “I am asking for a clear approval tonight.

Vinson restated she just wanted time to review their response and stand firm on her decision

Gibson-Gray confirmed that what Vinson was asking was to confirm all of the findings were met.

“I don’t think a 30-day extension by the petitioners is out of line. They could come back, our attorney would have time to review it, Debra would have time to review, Chrystal would have more  experience to make a decision. Again, it’s a 30-day ask and by then If you meet the findings you get your approval,” stated Gibson-Gray to the petitioners. “I am not understanding why a 30-day extension is difficult.”

Gibson-Gray stated if they gave the District a 30-day extension they could come back with a resolution of approval where everyone is comfortable.

The petitioners disused it for a few minutes before declining the extension offer.

“We would very much like a clean approval this evening and would invite Ms. Vinson to be directly apart of the MOU process,” stated Moilanen. “We completely respect the communication and the level you want to look through it, but we are looking for clean approval tonight with an open invitation to collaborate on the MOU.”

Vinson then clarified with the petitioner that they were agreeing to an MOU.

Superintended Stephanie Anello cautioned the Board that this petition amounts to a loss of $25 million per year and would caution the board against not having an MOU given THAT the attorney that represents the District IS recommending against doing that and they have our best interest.

Vinson stated the petitioner is agreeing to an MOU.

Gibson-Gray shot back that every Charter School has an MOU in place, but it’s a matter of what they wanted.

Sawyer-White then rescinded her rescind on the motion and seconded Vinson’s original motion.

Gibson-Gray once again stated that Vinson’s motion again did not guarantee everything would be corrected or satisfied the District, it didn’t matter, it goes on. She added that just because they say it here tonight, doesn’t make it true.

Vinson replied, “standing here to say that is public record, they are saying to the public they have responded to the findings outlined by our attorney and that they have in there application answered all of these correctly, that is what they said. What I am saying, this was handed to me tonight. I am a detailed person, I am a researcher, I’d like to just look at it… I don’t understand what the problem is.”

Gibson-Gray stated the problem was the petitioner thinks they did everything correctly.

“If our attorney is still saying its not correct, we don’t have any recourse,” said Gibson-Gray. “It’s an open-ended approval and it will move through.”

Ruehlig asked if the petitioner would give them 45-days in which Moilanen declined.

Vinson then amended her motion to approve the charter with the following: Delegate the Superintendent to negotiate an MOU that addressed the finding of fact, including the revised budget, special education and operations by June 18.

Sawyer-White seconded the motion.

Gibson-Gray stated she couldn’t be more clear and they were doing it without a “parachute”

In a 3-2 vote, the motion was approved to approve the petition by Trustees Ruehlig, Sawyer-White and Vinson. Trustees Hack and Gibson-Gray opposed.

During the Petition for the High School, an identical motion was offered by Vinson and seconded by Sawyer-White. It passed 3-2 with Ruehlig, Sawyer-White, and Vinson in favor, Gibson-Gray and Hack dissenting.

Correction: the headline of the article read that the District would lose $25 million per year, instead, the District staff anticipate losing $25 million in funding over the next several years.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. What is funny is ECT left off many of the community members comments where some of these people who advocate for these types of schools actually have a job to gain from the passage of a charter school. I think ECT did a disservice by not pointing this out. It’s about money and lining peoples pockets with money that otherwise would stay in AUSD.

    Use Rocketship for example, they get approved, the Chamber of Commerce claims its about choice. Nope, its about a brand new main sponsor. They are now using their money to fund a bill board on Highway 4. If AUSD did any of those things, they would get crucified. Did the Antioch Chamber of Commerce really advocate for the AUSD to lose $25 million? Will East Bay Tech Academy also become a sponsor. Time will tell. I will advocate for a boycott of all chamber board of directors businesses and would encourage picketing outside of Richard Pagano’s office until he is removed as CEO of the Chamber. He basically told the second largest employer of Antioch to pound salt and your jobs are not important. Yes Pagano, you knew this would result in layoffs.

    I can appreciate Mr. Hack and Ms. Gibson-Gray attempting to protect the district in some form should the East Bay Tech Academy not meet all the requirements. Unfortunately, you have Mr. Ruehlig, Ms. Sawyer-White and Ms. Vinson who approved a petition without conditions or recourse if they fail to meet all requirements. They went against legal advice and have left the District in a major predicament if East Bay Tech Academy fails to meet all requirements. We can only hope they operate in good faith and meet all requirements. But I highly doubt it.

    Mr. Ruehlig, Ms. Sawyer-White and Ms. Vinson seem more interested in lining up their pockets for favors in their next election than protecting the District. All should be removed from office in their next election and District staff and the public should offer a vote of no confidence on this school board.

    The public should start paying attention to just how ignorant, unprofessional, and damaging this board has become. Shame on all of them. This decision makes Antioch Schools worse, not better. Long story short, the School Board failed to do its duty as Board of Trustees and protect the District. What happened last week was nothing short of an embarrassment and highlights the need for people to pay attention in elections and begin to hold people accountable for not doing their jobs.

  2. Shocker, AUSD Board of Trustees showcasing how incompetent they are once again. The community deserves this for being asleep at the wheel.

  3. We already have TWO tech academies… EDGE at AHS and ACE at DVHS. We compete in the FIRST Robotics competition. We have a working planetarium open to the public at DVHS. Our ACE graduates go to Berkeley, Stanford, MIT, Princeton, UC Davis, many others. We just finished a project with an actual space probe in outer space. We use real rockets– not just a sticker of a rocket on a box. Does anyone seriously think these charters are meant to serve the students who need the most help?

  4. You all sound like school teachers. Yes, charters DO serve their students who place MUCH higher on your test scores and graduate a higher percentage of students than AUSD.

    • Julio – Charter schools are highly unregulated. Look at all the problems at CVCHS and other charters. When investors are adding charter schools to their portfolios, it’s not a good sign. What goes on at CVCHS is nothing compared to other charters. Our kids didn’t attend AUSD, but AUSD would be low performing whether it’s public or charter. It’s still the same students who parents don’t care about education.

  5. I am a strong supporter of the East Bay Tech Academy Charter applications for a high performing Middle School and High School. Antioch residents deserve local schools to which they would choose to send their children. Parents are already exercising their choice for better education alternatives by home schooling their children, enrolling them in private education, and transferring their children to schools in neighboring cities, placing a time and often a financial burden on families. This is evident by the declining enrollment in the AUSD in the face of a marked increase in the population of school aged children.

    As a longtime resident, I have sadly seen many great families with school aged children move out of town primarily to get their children into higher performing school districts. The current state of our schools is also a deterrent to Antioch attracting new residents and businesses who want good schools for their employees. Ask any Realtor how important schools are to anyone who is looking to relocate.
    The nationally recognized model for the East Bay Tech Academies has taken Clayton Valley High School from a poor performing school to one of the best in the state. 52% of their students were proficient in Math in 2016 versus only 15% at Antioch High School and 32% at Deer Valley High School. Which school would you choose to send your children to if you had a choice? The opponents of these schools never argue on the performance numbers because the facts are indisputable.

    I am a strong supporter of all public schools. The proposed East Bay Tech Academies are free public charter schools. As I support this choice for Antioch, I and all the supporters of this effort also support improvement at our current AUSD schools. In the meantime, we need high performing schools now so that our current students have the choices they deserve.

  6. This is a bad decision. This is a territorial move for money. It is not above improving student learning outcomes or providing more “choice”. It is about trying to treat schools like businesses. The charter school movement is awesome when it has a clear vision. The vision here is dodgy at best.

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