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WCCUSD shares new strategic plan

on September 13, 2013

Relying partly on a grant from Chevron, the West Contra Costa Unified School District rolled out its new five-year strategic plan at a community meeting in Pinole on Monday night.

“This is about setting priorities and then allocating resources,” superintendent Bruce Harter said. The plan elicited guarded support from some classroom teachers.

Parents, teachers, students and administrators gathered in the gymnasium at Collins Middle School and sat in rows of folding chairs facing a large projector screen as the district’s new strategic plan was presented in both English and Spanish.

Christi Thomas, a fifth-grade teacher at Fairmont Elementary School said, “I like the fact that the standards are being raised. Instead of just memorizing facts, children are learning why.”

The Chevron grant allowed the district to hire two consulting firms, Third Plateau Social Impact Strategies and Capitol Impact. The consultants worked with a community-based steering committee to identify the challenges of the school district and pinpoint critical priorities to address those challenges, which include: high expectations for student achievement, support for quality instruction through continuous professional development of teachers, embrace of collective ownership within the community, investment in the whole child, transparency and accountability within the district, and innovation.

A longtime elementary school teacher said, “There are some very good things in the plan. More collaboration between teachers, and they say we are going to respond to the needs of the whole child. That’s a revolution.”

School board member Todd Groves said, “Immediately, it’s causing us to really reflect on how we support our teachers. And the actual state of our communication compared to where we want it to be.”

Teacher support is an area receiving a lot of attention but some teachers feel the plan won’t do enough.

“The plan forgets us,” one longtime elementary school teacher said, adding that the region has a high cost of living “and we have the lowest wage in California.”

“I’d like to see them consider us – teachers who have stayed in the classroom, highly-dedicated people,” she said.

Implementation of the new plan will take place over the next several years, and the WCCUSD is making a point of involving the community, soliciting ideas or suggestions.

“We are still taking in peoples ideas and comments for another couple of weeks. The place to send those ideas is to,” Groves said.

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