RICHMOND -- Seven years ago, the West Contra Costa school district came up with an action plan for the future, but the recession of 2008 and the loss of revenue that followed put the plan on the scrap heap.

But now, with revenue stabilizing after Proposition 30 passed in November, West Contra Costa will be holding a series of town meetings with residents, parents, teachers and other employees to gather information for a new strategic plan to help it serve its students more effectively.

The final plan will be released in September and will be based primarily on input from the community on a number of subjects, including curriculum, school safety and facilities. But it is certain to include a strong emphasis on how to acquire and apply new technology to improve learning, said school board President Madeline Kronenberg.

"It's an exciting time for education in terms of technology," she said. "We're trying to get away from the way teachers are teaching now. It worked for a lot of generations, but now there are other options."

One of these options is the so-called "blended classroom," where students can watch a video on their home computers of their teacher teaching a lesson. That frees class time the following day for reinforcing the lesson and quizzing the students on their computers or iPads, to see how well they've mastered the material.

"When teachers now have to wait until they give a graded test to assess how the students are doing, they're getting the feedback way too late," said school board member Todd Groves.


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Now is a good time for a new district game plan, Groves said. West Contra Costa has paid off most of its debts, property tax revenues and state funding have stabilized, and budget cutting has ended.

"We're not getting more money now, but at least we don't have to cut," Groves said. "Our old strategic plan was preconditioned upon spending levels prior to the economic crash."

The district plans town hall meetings during April and May.

"We want to find out what the community needs and embrace it," Groves said.

Chevron Corp., which operates one of its largest oil refineries in Richmond, has contributed a $200,000 grant for a consulting firm to write the plan, Kronenberg said.

TOWN HALL SCHEDULE
10 a.m. April 13, Ford Elementary School multipurpose room, 2711 Maricopa Ave., Richmond
6:30 p.m. April 17, Crespi Middle School library, 1121 Allview Ave., El Sobrante
6:30 p.m. April 18, Hercules Library, 109 Civic Drive
10 a.m. April 27, El Cerrito High School multipurpose room, 540 Ashbury Ave.
6:30 p.m. May 9, Pinole Middle School multipurpose room, 1575 Mann Drive
10 a.m. May 11, Kennedy High School library, 4300 Cutting Blvd., Richmond