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Paso Robles Joint Unified School District board looks to make up deficit

Posted at 10:31 PM, Dec 11, 2018

The new Paso Robles Joint Unified School District Board is beginning to pick up the pieces after Superintendent Chris Williams resigned and the budget fell more than $2 million short.

At the board meeting Tuesday night, the San Luis Obispo County superintendent, James Brescia, addressed the elephant in the room: the board will have to put its differences aside in order to overcome some hurdles.

The biggest hurdle is a budget deficit, which will be met with budget cuts.

The board appointed Brescia as the temporary chairperson, but they still need to look for an interim superintendent.

One audience member recommended that current trustee, Jennifer Gaviola, would be a good fit.

The board unanimously approved a resolution to acknowledge the need for long-term cuts.

“We are apologizing in advance for what we are about to do,” said Chris Bausch, Board Trustee. “It is going to be painful for all for all of us, but it has to be done.”

Board members say they will try their best to keep cuts away from the classroom, but they will need to sever about $800,000 by February 28, 2019, and two more years after that.

Brescia went over some housekeeping rules too, saying it’s time to put animosity aside.

“It’s okay that some of us don’t like each other, we have to own that, but we have to treat each other respectfully,”  said Brescia.

He addressed the three recent resignations: Superintendent Chris Williams, Director of Student Services Kristin Shouse, and Director of Athletics Rich Clayton. He said the contracts will be reviewed by counsel, but that was all he could allude to.

One man hopes the board can come together.

“They are still bleeding money, so I don’t know what they can do to turn it around, but it has to be turned around at some point in time,” said Peter Byrne, a Paso Robles resident.

If the board does nothing to remedy the deficit, the budget will fall below the reserve level to a -0.78% in 2021.

Chris Williams resigned last week.

He had faced scrutiny for mismanaging the district’s budget which was $2.1 million less than what was projected for this school year.​


Previous coverage:
Paso Robles school board members ‘shocked’ by superintendent’s sudden resignation