RICHMOND -- The West Contra Costa school district welcomed two new board members, named a new board president and heard updates on the district's budget deficit and a plan to boost attendance at Kennedy High School this week.

Second-term trustee Madeline Kronenberg was elected board president Wednesday evening, replacing 20-year board veteran Charles Ramsey.

Kronenberg is a former teacher and an El Cerrito resident who has been at the forefront of the district's fundraising campaigns, including supporting Measures G and E, the successful parcel tax and bond measures on the November ballot. She has taken a special interest in improving educational achievement at Richmond's Kennedy High, which has been plagued by low test scores and truancy, as well as adult education.

Ramsey was elected clerk of the board, second in line to the president, taking over for Antonio Medrano, who was defeated in the Nov. 6 election.

Newly elected board members Randall Enos and Todd Groves took office, replacing Medrano and Tony Thurmond, who did not seek re-election.

Enos is a longtime teacher and administrator in the district. He taught at Kennedy and served as principal of Gompers Continuation High School in Richmond, among other positions. During his campaign, he said his priorities are school safety, improving student performance and encouraging more community involvement in schools.

Groves has been a parent volunteer in West County schools for 16 years and has worked with students at El Cerrito High School as part of WriterCoach Connection, a program that tutors students in writing. He has advocated for more autonomy for individual schools and bringing more adult volunteers into the schools. He also has called for higher expectations for student behavior and performance.

Finance Director Sheri Gamba presented the new board with an updated report on the district's budget that projects a $6.8 million in deficit spending for the current school year. The deficit, to be covered by a district rainy day fund, is required to maintain a 180-day school year, keep open two elementary schools and pay for school resource officers and adult education.

Richmond schools has six and El Cerrito has three resource officers, who are police officers posted on high school and middle school campuses, paid for by the district, compared with one in Hercules, a situation Ramsey called "a touchy issue."

The report anticipates continued 5 percent annual increases in costs for 2,329 participants in retiree health care programs, amounting to about $1 million per year.

Changes to the program to reduce the cost of retiree health care for employees who retired after 2010 "have not altered the fact that the district has a pay-as-you-go program where costs are escalating for people who retired prior to 2010," according to the report.

The district is also considering a plan to have students who live near Kennedy High and now attend middle school in El Cerrito go to Kennedy instead of El Cerrito High. About 110 students who live in the area next to Kennedy High attend El Cerrito High because the Kennedy campus is entirely within the El Cerrito High attendance area.

The district plans to have meetings with community groups about the change that, if carried out, would affect current eighth-graders who live in the area, beginning next fall.

"Kennedy is not housed inside of its own attendance area," Kronenberg said. "The time has come to finally fix (the problem)."

The district moved a decision to seek a waiver of its bond debt limit to accommodate passage of Measure E to its January meeting. West Contra Costa schools have $797 million in debt, leaving no remaining bonding capacity for the $360 million in debt authorized by Measure E.

The district plans to seek a limit of 5 percent of assessed valuation over 12 years instead of the 6 percent it was previously considering to align with other districts that have received waivers, said Martin Coyne, executive director of business services.

West Contra Costa has the third-largest bond program in the state, Ramsey said.