On November 8th we will have a chance to use the full weight of the electoral process to determine who will be the next Mayor of Richmond As important as this is, here in Richmond there are also three critical races being contested for three seats on the Richmond City Council.
As an added bonus, there are two seats open on the West Contra Costa Unified School District’s Board of Education.
Radio Free Richmond has extended an offer to all fourteen candidates to post their own words to let you, the voters, know their positions on what they believe to be the important issues.
Radio Free Richmond’s policy is to post these candidate provided articles unedited. What is posted is what is provided by the candidates.
RFR will post a new candidate statement as frequently as they are provided.
Leslie Reckler, Trustee West Contra Costa Unified School District, Area #5
(Area #5 serves Kensington, El Cerrito, East Richmond Heights, Richmond Annex, Richmond Marina, Pt. Richmond)
Experienced. Independent. Fiscally Responsible. A Proven Track Record of success.
I have served as your WCCUSD trustee since 2020 in what can only be described as one the most turbulent and trying times in modern education history. In my very short term, I am proud to share these many accomplishments:
Created a Safe Return to Classrooms
- Reopened schools during COVID-19 returning students safely to classrooms.
- Provided Stringent Health and Safety Protocols including upgrades to air filtration systems, free weekly COVID testing and robust contact tracing. Last year, the District administered over 330,000 free COVID tests.
- Boldly passed a COVID-19 vaccine mandate requiring students 12+, employees, contractors, volunteers and visitors to get vaccinated.This action resulted in a 87%+ vaccination rate.
Invested in Classrooms
- Prepared for students to return by lowering class size, hiring more counselors/lowered caseloads and adding more campus security personnel.
- Set aside millions for investments into career and technical education pathways, equity-related initiatives and technology upgrades.
- Saved Older Adult Education from the chopping block.
- Hired a new superintendent of schools.
- Embarked on a new strategic planning process to close our opportunity and achievement gaps once and for all.
- Approved a Director of Student Recruitment and Retention to tackle attendance and enrollment challenges.
Strong Fiscal Management
True to my word, I said that I would bring creative thinking forward to solve fiscal challenges. I:
- Rewrote all charter school policies requiring stricter criteria for new schools that want to open here and take our students, and setting a higher bar for petition renewals.
- Created a 7-11 committee to consider income-generating ideas for unused/unusable properties.
- Hired a governmental relations expert providing the WCCUSD its own seat at "Sacramento table," fighting directly for what our students, teachers and employees need and deserve.
- Performed my fiduciary duty to try to keep the district out of County Office of Education fiscal oversight. I voted against fiscal decisions that destabilized the district’s finances. I am not afraid to make the tough choices to preserve our fiscal solvency.
Experience and Seasoning Matters.
I am a parent with children enrolled in and graduated from WCCUSD Schools. I have 20+ years of broad-based business background managing budgets valued to $100 million. I understand the structures, processes and procedures of all facets of business and apply these skills to every school board meeting. These skills and perspectives are very necessary for operational success.
I have been a fierce advocate for students and families for years and have volunteered extensively in the district since 2006 in numerous capacities.
- I helped to raise billions of dollars for the district serving on numerous parcel tax and bond committees winning 8 out of 10 campaigns.
- Mentor to youth throughout my life including a Richmond Promise mentee.
- President of the Bayside Council of PTAs overseeing 30+ PTA units in West County. I increased council membership by 17% and helped to open six new units bringing more parent voices to the decision making table.
- Secretary to the District’s LCAP committee.
- Education Blogger for Ed100. Search for my articles!
- Hewlett Foundation Grant Writing Team member winning $1.2 million funding school-based deeper learning initiatives and research-based partnerships.
- Contributor, Resolution 49-1718 "Establishment of a Positive School Climate Policy" to eliminate Willful Defiance suspensions and take steps to improve school culture and climate. Working with a team of WCCUSD stakeholders, I helped to assemble policy recommendations and write and edit the document.
- Kensington PTA Safety Chair and Legislative Chair, Korematsu PTSA President, El Cerrito High School, WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) Accreditation Committee member, Co-Chair Investing in Academic Excellence, Parent Lead Speech and Debate Team, Treasurer for the El Cerrito Student Activity Fund.
- I’ve been to just about every WCCUSD School Board meeting for the better part of a decade, and at least a score more before that.
The Road Ahead
The WCCUSD is entrusted with a $500+ million operating budget and a $2.4 billion bond program for the rebuilding/remodeling of schools. It has the responsibility for the education of more than 25,000 of our community’s children and the employment of over 3,000 employees. The District is in a fiscal crisis. This is not a time for novices to try their hand at local government. The complexity is astounding, and this board needs continuity in the proven leadership and the student-focused perspectives I represent, independent of special interests.
I have already prioritized for the superintendent:
Continued Recovery from COVID-19 COVID is not over. Students and staff continue to recover from the pandemic’s learning interruptions and need a myriad of supports.
Improved Literacy and Numeracy Laser-focused attention to improving fundamentals, improving outcomes on those critical 3rd grade benchmarks.
Attraction, Recruitment and Retention of Education Professionals. Threatened before the pandemic, the teaching profession emerged battered. A comprehensive review and retooling of the entire human resource function must be addressed.
Fiscal Solvency - Declining enrollment and the related inability to make difficult decisions continue to strain the district’s ability to provide. I will continue to make the tough decisions to keep the district solvent.
Continued Improvements to Safety - We are living in increasingly unsafe times. Our schools need both investments to their physical structures, and investments to provide the softer supports that address behavior root causes through conflict mediation, mental health and social service supports.
I am proud to provide this partial list of endorsements:
- Buffy Wicks, Assemblymember, District 15
- Tony Thurmond, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction
- The East Bay Times’ Editorial Board. If you subscribe, read the article here. If not, access a PDFhere.
- Gabe Quinto Mayor, El Cerrito City Council
- Lisa Motoyama, Mayor Pro Tem, El Cerrito City Council
- Janet Abelson, Councilmember, El Cerrito City Council
- Paul Fadelli, Councilmember, El Cerrito City Council
- Tessa Rudnik, Councilmember, El Cerrito City Council
- Mister Phillips, Trustee, West Contra Costa Unified School District
- Annette Lewis, Trustee, Contra Costa County Office of Education
- Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council
- Evolve, Building a Movement to Fully Fund California’s Schools
- Hundreds of parents and community members.
Re-elect Reckler to School Board! Thank you for allowing me to serve the community’s children.