Problems in the Antioch Unified School District
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1. Guest Commentary in the Antioch Ledger-Dispatch by Citizens for Democracy Chairperson Ralph Hernandez2. Findings Presented by ACCT Chairman Ken Hambrick to the Antioch School Board (Jan. 22, 2001)
Ledger-Dispatch Editorial by ACCT Chairman Ken Hambrick, (Jan. 27,
2001): "It is interesting
to note that
the board is comprised of three former AUSD employees and two outsiders. The three former employees band
together regularly to form a majority...."
2001 Comments in the Ledger-Dispatch by ACCT Chairman Ken Hambrick:
"I predicted in my analysis
that the district would be in dire financial straits for the next and future budget years. And, guess what? That is
exactly what has come to pass. At the moment they have a shortfall of almost $4 million."
Contra Costa Times reports that " Without across-the-board pay cuts and other employee concessions,
the Antioch school district will become financially insolvent by the end of next school year, officials said."
(Mar. 5, 2004)
by Ralph A. Hernandez, Chairperson
The Antioch School Board majority, consisting of Joe Olenchalk, Joyce Seelinger and J. Dale Hudson, should be ashamed of themselves for their recent approval of the excessive and unnecessarily expensive Employment Contract for the District's new Superintendent. Their unjustified actions will directly have a negative impact upon our children and their education. The Contract essentially takes money away from them and instead enriches the Superintendent. The other two Board Members, Francine Hand and Claire Smith, deserve our appreciation for their stated disapproval of the Contract's terms and benefits.
The in-house person, promoted one position to the Superintendent's position, Dennis Goettsch, was previously one of the District's Associate Superintendents, earning about $101,000 yearly in salary alone. The recent past District Superintendent, Lee Jenkins, was paid a yearly salary alone of about $124,000. The new Superintendent's Contract pays Mr. Goettsch a yearly salary of $144,788. Therefore he has effectively been given an increase in salary alone of $43,204.00 for his new position, and unbelievably $20,684.00 a year more in salary alone than the recent past experienced Superintendent. The District must be 'swimming' in money now in order to give these kinds of increases and salaries. We wonder when the Board majority will plead a lack of funds to our community, and our children, when it is time to fund our Students' needs. We assume they'll just ask for increased Student and parent fund-raising efforts to make up for the extravagances of the new Superintendent's Contract costs.
Other increased monies and benefits for the new Superintendent under the Contract are; (a) if necessary, a termination buy-out of about $350,000 - versus the former's $200,000 buy-out, (b) $8,400 yearly to use as he likes - $2,800 more than the former one, (c) 18 months continued District-paid Health Plan benefits - 50% more than the former, (d) a $675 vehicle allowance, plus mileage and reimbursements if more than 30 miles travel from the District - again, more than before, (e) 45 days vacation maximum accrual and buy-out if necessary (50% more than the former), and, believe it or not, (f) unspecified work hours or days - very ambiguous and very difficult to hold the Superintendent accountable for.
The School Board majority of Joe Olenchalk, Joyce Seelinger and J. Dale Hudson, have shown a lack of responsibility in this matter. The District's Mission Statement, first sentence, should instead read "The School Board majority is NOT dedicated to its Students, parents or community." Even when I complained at the meeting about the absence of the Contract, its background, and its formation, before they voted on the Contract, it fell on the majority's deaf ears. The small audience there and I were given some undocumented and vague verbal rationale by Board President Joe Olenchalk. But, the majority still refused my request to postpone their vote until a full public review and inquiry concerning the information could be had. To their credit, Francine Hand and Claire Smith sought to postpone it, citing such for responsible reasons, but the majority closed such avenue and approved the Contract as written. Quite frankly I doubt that Board majority has the knowledge, skills, or ability, to fully understand the implications of what was before them.
The public essentially was kept out of the process as much as possible, and prevented from checking into the Contract's terms, justification, etc. The Board majority may very well have been good Teachers and/or school managers in the past. They are quite possibly even nice individuals, parents, etc. But, they have shown themselves to be incompetent and lousy School Board Members when balancing the needs of our children, the community, and the District as a whole. In fact, their actions are believed to have now set in motion other future School District management and line employees to seek parity and "adjustments" in line with salary levels established over the years. It even gets worse beyond this District. Other Superintendents in other districts can and most assuredly will point out the disparities in their compensation packages, as will other school employees, using Antioch's as one of the bench marks. Oh, what evil has brought!
In conclusion, we ask the School Board and the Superintendent to reconsider the Contract and renegotiate it more fairly, as is possible pursuant to the Contract's Sections #2-c, #6-a, and #18-d. To the Students, parents, and community, we ask that you become more directly involved - before it is too late! If you would like a copy of the Contract you can get one from the District or by calling us at #757-8943.
School Board Controlled by Spendthrifts
Monday night I attended the meeting of the Antioch Unified School Board (AUSD). The willingness of the board to spend money it doesn’t have is frightening. At issue is a very large salary increase for all staff (teachers, managers, administrators, custodians, etc.) to the tune of more than $8.2 million dollars. Over the three year life of the contracts the increases total more than 21%.
While staff needs to be treated fairly, this package is scary since AUSD does not have the money to pay for it. Among things it is doing are: taking away classroom supplies (impacting students) and utilizing one-time funds such as state block grants and special education settlement payments (with no assurance that these will be available in the future).
Worst of all, they are using half of the daily student attendance money AUSD will receive from the state in the future in order to fund current salary increases. This is very risky, is frowned upon in school financing circles, and mortgages the future. Where will the money come from to educate the 720 new kids forecasted for each year if the money has already been spent on current staff salaries?
AUSD has been taken to task by two Grand Juries for poor financial management, the most recent in 1999. The 1999 report stated that the board is "…apparently unwilling to exercise thoughtful, forward looking, conservative fiscal stewardship". Apparently this is still true.
Another issue is the unbelievable contract given to the new superintendent. He was given a raise of more than $40,000 with his promotion from Assistant Superintendent in the district. This is also $24,376 more than what the last superintendent started at. This is a real "sweetheart" contract, one which is not only unreasonable but one which the district can ill afford. His total compensation package is $161,280.
I was also shocked at the vehemence of Board President Olenchalk in his verbal attack on an Antioch resident who was requesting a review of the new superintendent’s salary package. No citizen should be treated this way by an elected official. The resident making the request was very polite. Why couldn’t Olenchalk have treated him with respect?
The Board Room was packed by school district staff some of whom stated that they had been "ordered" (requested?) to attend. They clapped loudly when the Board President chewed out the Antioch resident. Makes one wonder about the quality of these folks.
It is interesting to note that the board is comprised of three former AUSD employees and two outsiders. The three former employees band together regularly to form a majority such as they did in approving the new superintendent’s contract. Again one must wonder how unbiased and objective these individuals can be when dealing with issues like those above. Most likely the citizens of the community are being less well served than they should be.
The people of Antioch must realize the board has endangered the future education of their children by these actions.
They should also realize it is likely they will be faced with a proposal for new taxes to pay for the apparent unwillingness of the board "to exercise thoughtful, forward looking, conservative fiscal stewardship". Otherwise how can the board pay for the future if it has already spent the money?
Commentary in the Antioch Ledger-Dispatch
At the January 22, 2001 board meeting of the Antioch Unified School
District I presented an analysis of what the board was proposing to do with salary increases and compensation for the district superintendent.
2. "Higher energy bills. This is not new news." The district knew full well that energy prices were soaring when it spent the salary money in January. And the district had just spent about $6 million in bond money on energy saving equipment.
3. Increased health insurance premiums. The district has known for at least a year that these increases were coming.
4. More special education mandates. It spent the special education settlement funds to pay for the double-digit salary increases.
5. The need to hire more teachers. The district spent a good portion of next year’s student “average daily attendance” increases to fund the pay raises (mortgaged the future). My analysis said this action would assure financial problems in the future.
6. The double-digit salary increases. Had the district used responsible
financial management it would have given salary increases of no more than half of what was given. Had the increases been more like 6% the
district would not have the budget shortfall it is facing.