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Boikanyo Tefu

Richmond teachers struggle to afford housing on “poverty level” salaries

Diane Maddox sold gold jewelry as a side hustle, just to get by during her 33 years of teaching in Richmond. The single mother raised her two daughters in an apartment above a garage. It took the 56-year-old Maddox more than two decades until she could finally afford to purchase a home. She currently teaches transitional kindergarten for English learners at Downer Elementary School. “I’m a single parent in the Bay Area, so then trying to make it on one…

Will Olympia oysters survive in the Bay?

We waded through murky bay waters and patches of deep mud under the light of the moon and our headlamps. Cool water sloshed over the tops of our boots and covered our toes. We moved slowly and carefully across the slick bottom of the bay. The tide was going out, nearing its lowest mark, and the oyster reef balls had begun to appear as the receding waters exposed them.  Watershed project volunteers huddled around the reef balls with scrub brushes,…

Report shows half of Richmond’s charter schools have substandard financial accountability and lack parent engagement

Seven charter schools in Richmond were among 43 charter schools in the state found to have faulty records for funds generated by high needs students, says a report by nonprofit law firm Public Advocates. The report published this year by the advocacy organization known for working with low income communities to bring strategic policy reform found that the charter schools were not abiding by state guidelines. The Local Control Accountability Plan and Local Control Funding Formula are state guidelines adopted…

Student ratios improve for district health professionals, but numbers are still overwhelming

When counselor Teresa Pamintuan arrived in the West Contra Costa County Unified School District more than a decade ago, hundreds of students would be trying to get in to see her every day. She would try to squeeze in dozens of seniors a day for 20-minute one-on-one meetings to help map out their career and college goals. She often skipped lunch. But as the district’s lead counselor in the past year, she has helped reform the overwhelming caseload for school…

Richmond small business owner kickstarts neighborhood party to boost childhood literacy

Reading is a struggle for many of Richmond’s youth. Almost half of students in West Contra Costa County Unified School District are unable to read at grade level.   To boost reading in Richmond, the owners of R&R Coffee hosted a party on Monday for local families at the Bridge Storage and Artspace, where food and books were given away. It was “like an adventure” for her children, said Richmond mom Sherab Osugi. She said the party made her children,…

Vanessa Calloway, School Board Candidate

Vanessa Calloway wants the state of California to change its laws and give power to school boards to decide if their districts need charter schools. There are currently 14 charter schools in the West Contra Costa County Unified School District, 11 of which are in Richmond. The decision to allow the charter schools to open in the district is currently made at state level by the California Department of Education. Calloway and critics of charter schools note that districts like…

Anthony Caro, School Board Candidate

Community organizer Anthony Caro wants the district to adopt a tough new requirement for students to graduate high school. They must have a letter of acceptance from a college or trade school, or have a job lined up. Otherwise, they must join the military. The West Contra Costa County Unified School District needs to model this graduation requirement, implemented in Chicago early this year, to help students transition into college or the workforce, Caro said. Caro, 21, a homeowner in…

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