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Superintendent's Message -- Welcome Back

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En Espanol

Superintendent Matthew Duffy Dear WCCUSD Community,

Are you ready for a fantastic 2018-2019 school year? I am. So welcome back. I am excited for the upcoming school year and everything that it has in store for WCCUSD students and employees. I hope that you had a restful and rejuvenating summer, because we have a lot of work to do this year.

Last year ended on a positive note with 10 high school commencement ceremonies and more than 1,900 graduating seniors. We also had numerous promotion ceremonies at our elementary and middle schools.

At the final Board of Education meeting in June, board members adopted the Roadmap 2022 strategic plan, which focuses on Achieving Students, Thriving Employees, and Engaged Communities. As I have mentioned before, it is an ambitious plan focused on ensuring these four goals:

  • 80 percent of third graders are reading at level
  • 80 percent of English Language Learners are proficient by 6th grade
  • 80 percent of African American students are proficient in math by 6th grade
  • 80 percent of high school seniors are A-G ready.

To accomplish those 4-year goals, our District will focus on Achieving Students, Thriving Employees, and Engaged Communities. During the 2017-18 school year, we were able to make progress in each of these areas, beginning with Achieving Students. More than 1,900 seniors graduated from our schools and 43 percent of them were qualified for 4-year colleges. We also had a record number of students reclassify as English proficient, and we had an increase in the number of African-American students with grade point averages 4.0 or better. At the same time, we know that it is not enough and that we must do more to ensure all WCCUSD students succeed, especially the historically underserved.

On the Achieving Students front, we aligned more of our curriculum and practices so that they suit the needs of EVERY WCCUSD student. Our mission is to offer all WCCUSD students opportunities to thrive in a variety of programs. Some students will require different resources and programs, and it is up to us to provide all that we can so that all WCCUSD students not only have opportunities but avenues to take advantage and use them.

We also worked hard to ensure that WCCUSD employees are thriving in the workplace. WCCUSD labor unions and the District successfully negotiated contracts for the next three years that places our compensation at or near the top in the Bay Area. We also worked to provide more professional development for our employees that is specific to their work site and job. We offered four days of professional development for new teachers. There were also summer workshops on effective and exciting ways to teach reading, writing and mathematics, and we offered positive school climate opportunities that were focused on trauma informed practices. We believe that if WCCUSD employees -- all of our employees from certificated to classified to administration -- are thriving, then WCCUSD students will also flourish.

On Thursday, I helped welcome back employees at our 2nd Annual Employee Gathering. In addition to sharing my vision for the year, employees were also motivated by two 2018 graduates on their way to college and two guest speakers.

This year will we work toward increasing and enhancing the way we engage our community because if we are to reach our goals around Achieving Students and Thriving Employees, we have to do it with you and the other WCCUSD partners. We have new surveys that will provide faster feedback for us to analyze and use to improve our culture and climate. We will be engaging more families to assist in the rollout of our new online registration, and we are planning different events where WCCUSD communities will have new ways to interact with the people in the district.

As I mentioned, we are using a new online registration system. That is one of the biggest changes you will see. It is our move to go paperless and make it more convenient for our families to update their student information. Over the summer, we started testing the new electronic system where all student information from Emergency Contact to Health and Immunization Records to the Parent/Student Handbook forms (Media Release, Pesticide Use, etc.) will be collected. We hope that this will ensure that our families have more accessible information and are able to update important contact information that can be used in case of an emergency. You should have received information like this from your school. The other big news is that we are not printing the Parent/Student Handbook and instead are offering it online in both English and Spanish. A few copies will be available at your school site.

The 2018-19 school year also means new faces, programs, and events in our District. The year opens with three new K-8 schools with Montalvin, Peres, and Verde adding a seventh-grade class. Over 70 percent of sixth-grade families at those three schools told us that they wanted their children to stay at their elementary school for the 7th and 8th grades. Each of the school communities worked together to accommodate and welcome the new classes. I expect the expanded schools to be excellent environments for the students, their families, and the school communities.

We are also opening a Spanish Dual Immersion kindergarten class at Downer, which will add a new grade every year until it is our third Spanish Dual Immersion school. Washington and Stewart are the other two schools with Spanish Dual Language Immersion programs. The West County Mandarin School will also welcome a new class of kindergarteners to join the returning first-grade class, which opened the school a year ago. Richmond High School is becoming the first program in Contra Costa County and the third in the Bay Area to offer an International Program for immigrant and refugee families. There will be more on this in the weeks to come.

Finally, many new employees joined the District over the summer. In addition to the teachers and classified staff, there are new principals at El Cerrito, Kennedy, Adult Education and Vista high schools as well as Hercules Middle School and Downer, Dover, Ellerhorst, Ford, Lake, Ohlone, and Stege elementary schools, and new faces in the ranks of our senior leadership. Please join me in welcoming the new faces, including all WCCUSD’s new families, to the District family.

Here is to a great 2018-2019 school year. I will see you out there.

In community,

Matthew Duffy