WCCUSD tentative deal with union reduces class sizes, increases counselors

Kennedy High welding program to benefit from Airgas education initiative
Kennedy High School, Richmond.

A tentative one-year labor agreement reached Monday between the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) and its teachers union would restore cuts made in response to the district’s budget crisis last year and would restore class sizes to the contractual limits of 2020-21 “or better,” according to the union’s leadership.

The agreement, which still needs to be ratified by the United Teachers of Richmond (UTR) and approved by the district’s Board of Trustees, “will have over 120 more teachers in classrooms next school year,” according to WCCUSD. Separate announcements about the deal by WCCUSD and UTR on Monday did not address its financial implications for the district.

The contract would require hiring 12 additional academic counselors who would help decrease student-to-counselor ratio from 700-to-1 to 350-to-1 at all comprehensive high schools, WCCUSD said. On top of that, eight counselors dedicated to college and career planning would be hired. The agreement also reduces class sizes across the board in all special education programs, the district said. 

Among the agreement’s highlights, per UTR, is students in 7th and 8th grades at K-8 schools will receive counseling support, and a minimum staffing ratio is established for school psychologists.

The Board of Trustees could review the tentative agreement at its next meeting on July 14 if UTR completes its ratification process and vote. If approved, the agreement would be retroactive to July 1, the district said.

“As we return to 100 percent in-person instruction on August 16, we know it is important to provide students and staff with the optimal environment to learn and thrive in the post-distance learning environment,” said WCCUSD’s new Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Chris Hurst, who recently assumed the new role following the departure of former Superintendent Matthew Duffy. “The agreement focuses on the needs of students and staff, and  provides conditions for teachers, counselors, and other certificated staff to provide more individualized attention for students, something we know is needed as we return.”