Education

‘It’s just a beautiful experience’: Community groups plant trees to make Verde school greener.

For years, even on hot mornings and afternoons, Verde Elementary School students have spent heir recess and physical education periods on a cracked and sun-drenched blacktop — a wide open space with colored lines drawing volleyball courts and soccer fields, a running track along the edge. But the school will soon live up to its colorful name, with green scenery to cover the blacktop and shade the kids. Last month, volunteers from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and 100K…

Teacher shortage threatens to crumble popular dual-language schools that WCCUSD built over years

Fourth grade dual-language immersion teacher Wendy Gonzalez has been fighting for bilingual education since 1998, often feeling that the school district treated it as more of an afterthought. A teacher shortage in the West Contra Costa Unified School District has exacerbated the problem, she said, leaving dual-language immersion in a precarious place.  “If we don’t have support, it’s going to fail,” she said. “It’s going to crumble.” Three elementary schools — Washington, Stewart and Downer — use the dual-language immersion…

Through WCC Education Fund, Youth Code Now triples number of Black and Latino students learning STEM

School days were difficult for Susana Romero, who was 11 when her family left El Salvador and settled in Richmond. She had a hard time with math and her parents, who did not speak English or  finish school, couldn’t help her.  Things changed academically when Romero was introduced to computer science in high school. She pursued that interest after graduation earning a certificate in information technology support. Now she is an instructor with Youth Code Now in Richmond, teaching STEM…

Main Library gets grant for new flooring, lighting, elevator, other upgrades

At the Main Library in Richmond, time seems to stand still. The two-story building’s glass façade — said to be the first of its kind for a public library in the United States — allows the sunlight to filter in but keeps the hustle and bustle of city life out. With time-worn floor tiles and antiquated ceiling lights, the library makes very clear that it’s been around for a long time  — actually, since Harry Truman was president. Romanticization of…

People of Richmond: What should WCCUSD do to recruit more teachers?

“People of Richmond” is a regular series in which reporters pose a question to people in the community. Answers are presented verbatim, though sometimes edited for brevity. Q: What should be done to address the teacher shortage in the West Contra Costa Unified School District? “Pay them a living wage, increase taxes on corporations so we can pay them a living wage, and also of course housing. Housing is so expensive here…a lot of teachers can’t afford to live here. Cost…

‘Where’s my teacher?’ Students and parents want to know why WCCUSD hasn’t filled dozens of teacher vacancies

Parents protested and teachers rallied against West Contra Costa Unified School District on Wednesday, expressing frustrations with how the teacher shortage is being handled and communicated to the community. A few dozen parents, kids and teachers gathered at Memorial Park in Richmond, directly across the street from the WCCUSD headquarters, to demand answers after a lack of teachers has forced some schools to combine classes, hire temporary substitutes or move teachers around to compensate for staffing shortages.  Protesters held signs…

People of Richmond: How would you improve WCCUSD schools?

“People of Richmond” is a regular series in which reporters pose a question to people in the community. Answers are presented verbatim, though sometimes edited for brevity. Q: If you were superintendent of the West Contra Costa Unified School District, what would your top priority be? “I would make sure that students have enough teachers. Right now, a lot of the classrooms are overfilled and the students don’t get adequate attention. It’s better to have more teachers or tutors in each…

After-school group’s contract dispute with WCCUSD devolves into insults at board meeting

Emotions boiled over at the West Contra Costa Unified School District board meeting Wednesday when administrators of the Bright Futures Growth and Development Center in Richmond asked why they no longer had a contract to provide after school and other services to students. Bright Futures President Idrissa Lattier lobbed cutting accusations of selfishness and dishonesty at each of the board members, as she scolded them for their inaction on the contract, saying, “I don’t need to sell Bright Futures. ……

Juveniles arrested, investigation ongoing in Richmond school break-ins

Police have arrested four juveniles and are looking for others who they say are connected to break-ins at five West Contra Costa Unified School District buildings last month, smashing windows and electronics and ransacking classrooms.  The juveniles who were arrested late in July and early this month ranged in age from 12 to 16 years old, said Sgt. Aaron Pomeroy of the Richmond Police Department. He said police are still gathering evidence and working to identify other suspects.  Richmond Police…