Martha Goralka, Observer
The first time I tried to observe the Antioch Unified School District’s board meeting; more than 300 people showed up for a room that would hold perhaps 75 seated community members. It was moved to a larger venue the following Friday; I was unable to attend. My second try was a quick, uneventful school board meeting, which was over by 8:00 pm.
My second actual observation was on May 22. In anticipation of a large turnout, the meeting had been moved to Beede Auditorium at Antioch High School. I didn’t count, but there seemed to be more than 400 in attendance – with at least 50 students, from kindergarten to fifth grade, in attendance.
I was impressed by how cordial the board, staff and audience appeared to be. In the past, a reputation for less than courteous behavior had been developed by some board members and some community members.
The AUSD board is in the process of developing districts for the 2020 election cycle. Their consultant seemed to think protecting current seats was of utmost importance, while also combining census tracts composed of a majority of Hispanic and/or African Americans, based on the 2010 census information. The consultant did say that the lines would have to be redrawn when the 2020 census was completed. There was no one interested in public comment – but there will be several meetings available for public input before the final lines are drawn. Since school board members don’t live near each other, they would probably be in separate districts, anyway.
A resolution supporting LGBTQ Pride was passed which included approval to fly the rainbow banner over this district office and district schools during the month of June.
A resolution to continue the Rocketship Charter School’s probation was approved. This was agreed to by the school, the board, and the teachers’ union, with oversight provisions that the charter school seemed to welcome. The discussion on this topic was mostly centered on students and their parents demonstrating the positive results of the school’s programs. The board reminded the audience that the provisional status was not about the program – but about financial reporting, which included a lack of financial transparency, lack of timely reporting and a concern that the school could be insolvent in three years.