Welcome to Board Watch for WCCUSD’s February 1st Meeting!
At the February 1st Board of Education meeting, our school board discussed goals and outcomes from Goal 5 of the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) as well as the initial bargaining items between WCCUSD and the United Teachers of Richmond. The Board also reviewed reports on the Young Scholars Program and initial progress on the initiative to start a Mandarin Immersion School in WCCUSD. Due to time constraints, the Board opted to delay a decision on renewing the Richmond Charter Academy petition until the next regularly scheduled Board meeting.
To explore the full meeting agenda, click here.
Report on Young Scholars Program
Jacqueline Russian, founder of the Young Scholars Program (YSP), presented to the Board. YSP is a college preparatory program for young men of color. Students participate in college tours, college fairs, financial aid workshops, and college admissions presentations. There are approximately 160 students receiving college preparation services at four of our high schools: De Anza, El Cerrito, Hercules, and Pinole. They are given access to on site counselors who provide them with weekly services that focus on leadership development, life skills, and college prep training.
Russian shared, “We have some of the best counselors that are dealing with students. They work with kids in school and out of school. There has even been a decrease in chronic absenteeism; but the most notable increase is when you talk to the young men.”
YSP brought a group of students and parents to speak on their experiences in the Program. YSP parent coordinator Simone shared, “It has been an immensely over satisfying experience … I can not only support my son, but other young men.” Darius, a senior at Hercules High, added, “It helped me the past three years to figure out what I’d like to do.”
The Board enthusiastically praised the Program, and was interested in how to spread it across our district. Board member Phillips asked whether schools like Kennedy or Richmond High would benefit from YSP. Russian explained that “Any school can benefit, but we are maxed out. It would take more funding. I do think that all schools could benefit. I think if we start with 9th graders we could keep going on.”
Board member Kronenberg noted, “This is one of the programs I’ve watched over the years. Knowing that a program is the specific reason for an outcome. I think it’s because there is a specific intentionality around what you’re doing there. 100% of students enrolled go to college? Amazing. This is where the turnaround is.”
Click here to review the Young Scholars presentation.
LCAP Goal 5 Update
The Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) shows how district funding will be used to improve outcomes and performance for all students, especially for our English Learners, low-income students, and foster youth. The LCAP is written with a set of Annual Measurable Outcomes that are meant to provide information about whether our students are showing academic progress.
Goal 5 of the LCAP is to provide Basic Services, “which means ensuring our students are given adequate facilities, instructional materials and curriculum as well as qualified teachers.” (2016-17 LCAP). Goal 1 is supported by $173 million in total funding, including $1.3 million in supplemental and concentration funding.
Superintendent Matt Duffy was frank in addressing the important points from the six-month evaluation period for LCAP Goal 5:
- A set of schools “on the move” (in a positive direction academically)
- Deep investments in the social/emotional health of our students
- Growing relationship with UTR and other unions
- Reconfigured Principal Professional Learning
- Lowered suspension rates
- Learning Center Model
- Promising Teaching and Learning work such as Lesson Study Math, Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop
- Growing community engagement
The not good:
- Lack of basic resources:
- Assistant Principals
- Targeted teachers (ELD, Newcomers, Secondary)
- Minimal focus on Early Literacy
- Lack of commitment to English Language Development
- No full day Preschool
- Lack of Instructional Coaches
- Poor Coordination around College and Career services
- Lack of consistency responding to complaints
The really not good:
- Extremely high class sizes in secondary
- Inability to close achievement gap
- Very low A-G rates
- Lack of site administrators and site leadership succession
- Massive lack of substitutes
- Staff retention
- Availability of district data
Duffy also shared the qualitative data from town hall meetings that community members participated in:
Superintendent Duffy was hopeful about the potential next steps for the district. He outlined 3 priorities based on the evaluation:
- Recruit, support and retain high quality and effective staff.
- Increase our focus on professional development dedicated to teaching, learning and leadership.
- Create powerful school cultures that are predicated on positivity, inclusion, and safety
Board President Elizabeth Block exclaimed that she hasn’t “heard this much honesty in a school board meeting. To improve we really need to be honest with where we are. We love your goals, we love your honesty, now let’s see your action steps.”
During Public comment UTR President Demetrio Gonzalez shared additional encouragement around the report. Gonzalez explained that, “We (UTR) are here in full support of Matt Duffy’s report. Our goals align really well with the superintendent’s goals. Three out of four of our goals align with his top 3 priorities. It really shows solidarity that we want the same thing.”
President Block explained that, “This is a different board now. We’re trying to do better.”
Click here here to review the LCAP presentation.
Mandarin Immersion School
Immersion is a unique educational experience with the goal of developing bi-literacy, bilingualism, and bi-cultural attitudes in elementary students. It is an educational model that provides academic instruction in English and a “target language” such as Mandarin Chinese. WCCUSD’s presentation highlights the strength of dual immersion as “a research based way to improve the academic performance for all of our students” and a strategy in “closing the gap [in] academic achievement for English Language Learners and African American students.”
Duffy was quick to clarify that the program’s intention is to uplift WCCUSD’s at risk communities. He also clarified that the immersion school would not enroll a higher percentage of native or current Mandarin-speaking students. The intention is that the population will reflect the surrounding demographics of the school site.
Duffy was transparent while explaining funding for the Dual Immersion program: “It is important for people to understand that we’re not playing around with money. MRAD funding could be used for playground and outdoor community space improvements. We have some developer fees we could use around population growth. We’re not dumping $1.2 million, but I do want to be honest about the funding required.”
A great number of community members came to share public comments on both the Immersion School site and Wilson Elementary. Parents, teachers and community members demanded the Board act on past promises for a new Wilson campus. The school is currently housed in portables, and plans for a new school site were projected for January 2017 per the Board’s Facilities Master Plan. Many community members pleaded for the Board to move on getting Wilson a new school site. Additionally, many community members wondered if it were in the District’s best interest to spend money on a Dual Immersion site when Wilson was in need of new facilities.
A Wilson parent clarified that, “We are not opposed (to the dual immersion program). If the Immersion program is able to be slated in 2017, maybe we can move alongside that program. We do not feel any competition, but we need to make the schools that we already have stronger.”
Board member Kronenberg added that she is “very excited by this. I think this is something we could use to close the achievement gap, as this school will be open to everyone in the district. We can weight the enrollment numbers just like we did with the charter schools.”
Board Member Phillips weighed in: “We voted on starting it, I still support it. I support the program. A program. I think we need to consider the equity around this. If we are to have a whole immersion school I think the first school needs to be Spanish. Based on our district demographics and considering our ELD programs’ lack in performance. The LCAP evaluation show a lack of true commitment to that program (ELD).”
WCCUSD will continue to deliberate over the potential school site for the Mandarin Immersion School and vote on this item at a future Board meeting.
Click here to review the Mandarin Immersion School Presentation.
UTR Bargaining Proposal – Salary and School Calendar
Both the Board and Demetrio Gonzalez (President of the United Teachers of Richmond) presented their initial bargaining proposals at the February 1st meeting. The proposals focused on the school calendar and salary.
While explaining UTR’s focus on salary, Demetrio mentioned that “35% of our (WCCUSD’s) total general fund (goes) into salaries. We are the third lowest in the County, which to me says we’re not truly investing in our educators.” He closed out the short bargaining proposal by stating that he is “really looking forward to starting this process with you. I want us to have really collaborative and supportive negotiations.”
At the next regularly scheduled board meeting, this item will come back for public hearing and adoption by our school board members.
Click here to view WCCUSD’s initial bargaining proposal to UTR.
Click here to view UTR’s initial bargaining proposal to WCCUSD.
Decision to Accept or Deny Richmond Charter Academy
The Board was scheduled to vote to either accept or deny the Richmond Charter Academy (RCA) charter petition at the February 1st meeting. Due to time constraints, the Board motioned to return to this item at a following meeting.
Click here to preview the Charter Renewal presentation.