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Edward Booth

School board discusses charter school moratorium

The proposed resolution, inspired by several others—including one that passed last month following the teachers strike in the Los Angeles Unified School District—calls for a moratorium on charter school expansion from the California State Board of Education and seeks to establish additional oversight over existing charter schools.

WCCUSD hosts recruitment fair to find teachers

The fair, the first of several this year, attracted over 50 applicants in three hours. Most arrived early, though some filtered in steadily until the event ended at noon. A team of administrators worked to smoothly guide people through the application process, from registration—more than half had appointments, many walked in—to finding the right interviewer among a maze of wooden desks.

Council hears presentation on School Resource Officers and wastewater

On Tuesday, the Richmond City Council heard presentations on wastewater infrastructure and School Resource Officers—or SROs—among other items. SROs, who are full-time police officers stationed at schools, have come under criticism recently in the West Contra Costa Unified School District due to budget constraints and because parents, teachers and other community members have raised questions about their effect on school climate. Several members of the Richmond Police Department—Chief Allwyn Brown, Sergeant Lynette Parker and Officer Joseph England—explained the role of…

Morcom Amphitheater of Roses

At the precipice of spring, before the proper time of year, only a few roses bloom at the Morcom Amphitheater of Roses, though pruned rose bushes—bare, spiky, grey, brown, some a sunny red-green—line the area profusely, thorns prominently on display. It’s a clear, crisp, cloudless day: The sun shines upon an ovular green reflecting pool and small children play among rose bushes above a gurgling stone fountain. Large trees surround the garden, providing shade and camouflaging the occasional looming apartment…

West Contra Costa school board will soon release its trustee-area map after a year of controversy

The journey toward the new voting system in the school district began in 2002, when the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 was enacted, making it easier for minority groups to prove at-large elections dilute their vote. Though most California elections have historically been held at-large, the voting rights act has caused a surge of lawsuits in recent years, either threatened or real, prompting more than 100 school districts and cities to shift to trustee-area elections.

Charter renewed amid school board shift

The charter of Benito Juarez Elementary was renewed by default last Wednesday because of a strange scenario in which incoming board members were unable to vote and one longstanding school board member stepped away from the dais, leaving the decision without enough votes to legally stand. California charter schools must have their charter reapproved every five years, and Benito Juarez’s renewal was in question because its parent organization, Amethod Public Schools, recently came close to having its charter for John…

School board approves trustee-area map

The final map will divide the district into five separate voting areas, each of which will elect one board member in future elections. This area-based system will replace the current at-large elections where school board winners are determined by a district-wide popular vote.

Stephanie Hernández-Jarvis, School Board Candidate

Stephanie Hernández-Jarvis, a teacher in the West Contra Costa Unified School District, is running for the school board on a platform of improving teacher retention, the school climate and student academic and learning outcomes. Hernández-Jarvis, 27, once an undocumented immigrant, also considers herself a strong advocate for immigrant rights. “It’s not about security for me; it’s about using the privilege I’ve gained,” Hernández-Jarvis said. “That’s why I’m doing this.” Hernández-Jarvis, a resident of Pinole, launched her teaching career in West…

Valerie Cuevas, School Board Candidate

Valerie Cuevas comes from humble beginnings. As a child of a working-class family, beset by problems that put her at risk of academic failure, Cuevas attached to her family’s belief in the transformative power of education. “My family believed in the innate ability and potential of all the kids to succeed, and to succeed at high levels,” Cuevas said, and education, “was a transformational experience that would allow me to transcend those conditions.” Now, as president of the West Contra…

Elizabeth Block, School Board Candidate

Elizabeth Block has served as public education principal, school psychologist and special education administrator over the course of a 35-year career. She’s currently an incumbent member of the West Contra Costa Unified School Board, running for a second term. “I consider myself to be the candidate with experience that matters because I’ve had experience at all levels in the education system,” Block said. Block, 65, a resident of El Cerrito, led a forensic audit of the district’s criticized construction program…

Consuelo Lara, School Board Candidate

Consuelo Lara found structure and safety in attending school as a child. Then she became a teacher and taught for 38 years, much of the time in the West Contra Costa Unified School District. She is now running for a seat on the school board. Lara, of San Pablo, seeks to encourage dual language literacy, job training programs for students and improve district reading levels. She also promotes applying a philosophy of “support, expand and duplicate” to successful school programs,…

Madeline Kronenberg, School Board Candidate

Madeline Kronenberg has gathered a wealth of experience while serving three terms on the West Contra Costa Unified School Board. A former teacher, she is currently running for a fourth term. Kronenberg, 71, a resident of El Cerrito, wants voters to return her to the board to work toward eliminating the achievement gap—the difference in academic scores among subgroups of students. She also said she would improve teacher retention and collaboration. She says she learned the value of collaboration from…

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