Tom Butt for Richmond City Council The Tom Butt E-Forum About Tom Butt Platform Endorsements of Richmond Councilmember Tom Butt Accomplishments Contribute to Tom Butt for Richmond City Council Contact Tom Butt Tom Butt Archives
  E-Mail Forum
  WCCUSD Superintendent Johnston to Retire
June 16, 2005

At last night's WCCUSDSchool Board meeting, Superintendent Gloria Johnston announced that she will retire on August 15, 2005.  This news release was passed out at the meeting:

Dr. Gloria Johnston, Superintendent of the West Contra Costa Unified School District, announced today that she will retire from the district and the field of K-12 public education as of August 15, 2005.  In September Dr. Johnston will begin a new career in the private sector as Dean of Education for National University.

“I will miss deeply serving this community that so passionately supports its public schools,” Dr. Johnston said.  “Our schools, employees, families, and community members have been through so much together during this challenging period.   I know, however, that over the past six-and-a-half years together we have built the foundation for moving from being a good school district to daring to be a great one.”

During Dr. Johnston’s service as Superintendent, the district has made significant gains in improving student achievement and closing the achievement gap.  In the facilities arena, during her tenure the community passed two general obligation bonds totaling $430 million dollars to rebuild aging facilities.  In addition, in June 2004 voters approved a local parcel tax by a 73 percent majority to support critical education programs.  Under Dr. Johnston’s watch the district has also, among other successes:

  • Designed and implemented a strategic plan that emphasizes literacy and establishes bold achievement goals, resulting in improved student achievement and narrowing the achievement gap.
  • Re-aligned district resources to focus on student achievement for all students.
  • Adopted and implemented district-wide, standards-based language arts programs in elementary and secondary schools.
  • Maintained a positive budget certification from the Contra Costa County Office of Education.
  • Implemented sustained, comprehensive, and district-wide professional development programs for teachers and principals.
  • Engaged in a four-year partnership with the Stupski Foundation to build an equitable, system-wide, results-oriented district culture that embraces change.
  • Initiated organizational discussions and trainings on race and equity and the impact of institutionalized racism on students.
  • Increased direct central office support to schools and classrooms.
  • Developed a district-wide data collection system to monitor and assess student learning.
  • Decreased the number of schools with API rankings below 500 from 17 to zero.
  • Increased the number of schools with API rankings above 700 from 8 to 17.
  • Built three new schools and reconstructed 18 more.
  • Increased state and federal grant funding.
  • Created the Business and Education United Foundation to increase community resources for local public schools.

Dr. Johnston became Superintendent of the West Contra Costa Unified School District in February 1999.  The district encompasses the northern California cities of El Cerrito, Richmond, San Pablo, Pinole, and Hercules, as well as several unincorporated areas within its 110 square mile area.  Over 33,000 students are enrolled in preschool through grade 12 in 60 schools.  The annual general fund budget exceeds $260 million, and the district employs almost 4,000 employees.

Prior to serving as West Contra Costa’s Superintendent, Dr. Johnston served for over five years as Superintendent of Schools in the Banning Unified School District in Riverside County, Calif.  From 1988 to 1993, she was a central office administrator in Poway Unified School District in San Diego County, California.

While working for school districts in California and Illinois, Dr. Johnston has been a district-level administrator in the areas of bilingual education, curriculum development, student assessment, state and federal categorical programs, preschool services, and human relations. She also worked as a teacher and principal in schools in Illinois and spent three years teaching English as a Second Language in Caracas, Venezuela. 

Dr. Johnston  received her A.A. degree from Elgin Community College, her B.S. and M.S. degrees from Northern Illinois University, and her Ph.D. in Public Policy Analysis from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Her doctoral dissertation was a study of the work of public school superintendents.  In 2002 she co-authored- with seven other women superintendents-“Eight at the Top,” an inside view of what it’s like to be a California public school superintendent.

Speaking of her new career, Dr. Johnston said: “National University and its School of Education produce more credentialed teachers of color than any other institution of higher learning in California.  The opportunity to carry on that tradition, and build upon it, was an offer that I just couldn’t turn down.  This carries forward my commitment to provide a diverse teaching force for the children and young people of California.”

The La Jolla-based National University, founded in 1971, enrolls 17,000 students.  The National University system includes 16 learning centers in San Diego County and regional learning centers in San Jose, Sacramento, Redding, Stockton, Fresno, Bakersfield, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, and Twentynine Palms.   Black Issues in Higher Education, the national magazine that focuses on issues concerning higher education and ethnic minorities, ranks National University first in the nation in granting master's degrees in education to all minorities.  Dr. Johnston’s foray into her new field also allows her to fulfill a precious goal-to be closer to her children and grandchildren, who live nearby in San Diego.