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November 5: Message from the Superintendent

En Español

November 5, 2020

Dear WCCUSD Community,

After a great deal of thoughtful consideration I have decided not to return to the West Contra Costa Unified School District next year as your Superintendent. It is with mixed emotions that I will allow my current contract to expire on June 30, 2021 and choose not to seek re-employment with the school district for the 2021-2022 school year. 

The Board of Education will also be undergoing a significant change as a result of the recent election. In December, four new members will be seated on the five-member governing board. The community has spoken and they want fresh leadership perspectives to guide the future of our schools. The current Board should defer to this new crop of leaders to give them the space and time to fully own the process of finding my replacement. Hiring a Superintendent is the primary responsibility of the new Trustees. They should feel comfortable with the search firm they retain and the recruiting process they will oversee. For my part, I am committed to making the transition as seamless as possible. I will still be your superintendent for eight months as we navigate through the lingering COVID pandemic and will serve until the end of the school year.

Now in my 5th year as Superintendent, I am very proud of the work we have done together and the many things we have accomplished. I am especially proud of the work our team and community have done during the COVID pandemic to create a schedule that is fair and sustainable for our students. We have respected the needs of our families, employees and students to create a safe, healthy and supportive learning environment in very uncertain and difficult times.

It has been an unbelievable blessing for me and my family to have shared in the story of the West Contra Costa Unified School District for these years. From science fairs to football games and graduations to community meetings, every day has brought me great honor and humility.  Families and staff have welcomed me, shared their stories, their passions, their questions and concerns. I have done everything in my power to act to make the district a better place. Our district is unique and complex, stretching itself to serve many different cities and communities. It has been an absolute joy to work to meet the needs of so many different people. 

New school board leadership will take their oaths of office in just a few weeks. They will now be working in a new structure representing single areas of the district, not just the whole district.  

I wish all the new members the best of luck in building a strong and united governance team to help move the district forward while supporting their individual areas of representation. Our budget is in good shape and our internal systems continue to strengthen. The positive initiatives we started will leave WCCUSD in a strong, sustainable position for the future.

My work for the remainder of this year is to help the district transition back to physical school regardless of timeline.  Getting back to school is critically important and we will get there.  We will work to ensure that our students are getting what they need and we are hearing their voices through this difficult process. 

There is still great need around our district.  We have many struggling learners as well as students and families who have been historically disenfranchised.  We will need to stay dedicated to equity and racial justice in our system and in our community.  I am ready to work with our new Board over the coming months to strengthen and evaluate our work in support of all students in our district.  Depending on results of elections, ballot initiatives and state finances, our budget in the coming years may be under significant stress.  We will have to work even harder to make sure we can support our learners most historically far from opportunity and achievement.

With work still to do, I am so proud of what I have been able to accomplish with your help during my time here.  Thank you to so many of you for insights and energies in bringing these initiatives and programs to life. While the district is on the move, there is much that remains to be done. With strong, collaborative leadership I am confident that West Contra Costa USD can continue on its journey to make our schools a place where everyone can thrive and succeed.

Sincerely,

Matthew Duffy
Superintendent of Schools


A SOLID TRACK RECORD OF SUCCESS

Here are just a few of the achievements we have accomplished together:

Programs and Schools

  • Delivered a brand new building and a new model of school in the Michelle Obama Elementary School that is a fully flexible, learner centered design
  • Started a new West County Mandarin School committed to diversity and IB (International Baccalaureate)
  • Created three new K-8 schools to allow for more parent and student choice
  • Started two new International Schools for newcomer students in grades 7-12 and a newcomer classroom for elementary school students
  • Successfully launched the IB (International Baccalaureate) program at Pinole Valley High School
  • Successfully grew Career Technical Education pathways across the district including the launch of the Kennedy Welding program, expanded Health Pathways at De Anza, Hercules and Greenwood, a new Information Technology pathway at Hercules High, new media facilities at RHS and more.

Equity Initiatives

  • Started a Kennedy/South Richmond Schools Initiative to support our highest need schools including leadership support, sports league and additional philanthropy resulting in significant California dashboard growth
  • Initiated a partnership with Equal Opportunity Schools to ensure more students of color and low income students are represented in AP and Honors classes
  • Grew the student participation in the WCCUSD Fabrication Lab programs including district mobile STEM Fabrication Lab
  • Created more inclusion programs for Special Education students across the district
  • Created a Director of African American Achievement position and office to increase achievement for African-American students
  • Created a structure for facilitating and training all staff three weeks per month all year long around issues of Race and Equity
  • Increased total number of students reclassified

Teaching and Learning

  • Facilitated the full implementation of a workshop/balanced literacy model for all Elementary School students
  • Facilitated and successfully introduced emerging practices of Deeper Learning across the district to radically rethink the student everyday learning experience including student led conferences, making work public and inquiry based units of study
  • Successfully piloted math initiatives dedicated to number talks, lesson study and growth mindset
  • Increased participation in music and arts across the district
  • Increased graduation rate
  • Decreased suspension rate
  • Expanded Transitional Kindergarten classes to full day programs 
  • Successfully launched online schools with multiple strategies to support students and families during the COVID-19 pandemic

Technology

  • Successful implementation of the district 1:1 device program and aligned professional learning for educators
  • Full migration to the Google classroom for students
  • Expansive outreach and distribution of hot spots and chromebooks during the COVID-19 pandemic

Budget

  • Raised over $10 million in philanthropy and grants for the school district dedicated to teaching and learning, school climate, leadership development and more
  • Successfully set aside $35 million for future cost saving and reduction measures
  • Successfully restructured district salary scale to put teachers in top third of county salaries
  • Successfully led the district operating budget of nearly $500 million and the current active bond program of nearly $400 million

Facilities

  • Delivered all Bond projects on budget and on time, including facilitation of new projects  and audits of a program investment of over $1 billion
  • Garnered community support for a new $575 million Bond to continue our facilities program
  • Completed multiple bond refinancing to create significant savings of over $20 million for community tax payers

Staffing

  • Developed new pipeline of Assistant Principals to support schools and develop the future leaders of the district
  • Led a strategic restructuring of district management staff to meet district reduction targets while maintaining effectiveness
  • Strengthened and maintained positive working relationship with district bargaining units
  • Created new Principal hiring process and enabled more site based decision making in district hires
  • Increased school leader retention across the district
  • Increased teacher retention especially in highest need schools across the district