The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District has been the center of controversy for nearly two years and a dozen people think they are the best fit to step up and change that.
Twelve people are eyeing four seats on the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District (PRJUSD) Board in the upcoming November Election.
District board members are facing difficult financial cuts after the budget fell short by more than $2 million dollars.
Superintendent Curt Dubost said the sheer number of candidates shows just how much the community wants to help.
The 12 candidates:
- CHRIS BAUSCH (Incumbent)
- DORIAN K. BAKER (Retired Teacher)
- FRANK TRIGGS (Retired Business Manager)
- GREG S. GOODMAN (School Psychologist)
- LAURA PARKER (Retired Public Educator)
- JOAN SUMMERS (Incumbent)
- RUBEN CANALES JR. (Retired Educator)
- JIM COGAN (Business Owner/Parent)
- CAITLIN J. VIERRA (Manufacturing Manager/Parent)
- LEONARD WASHINGTON (Retired Professor)
- NATHAN WILLIAMS (Firefighter)
- JIM REED (Local Business Owner)
Many people looking to dig the district out of the financial hole it's in.
“As a result of some overly optimistic enrollment projects, lack of position control, overspending, mistakes that you just can't do, so the district was first in the negative and then qualified certification,” said Curt Dubost, Superintendent of the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District.
The district’s financial situation has been worsened by the pandemic and declining enrollment.
In addition, board members will have to make more cuts, including the possible closure of a school, by the 2022-23 school year if it doesn't improve.
“It doesn’t matter which way you look at it, if our enrollment, even if it stays flat, we're going to be in trouble in the third year out,” Dubost said.
He said so far, there have not been any layoffs. Instead, the district has been encouraging early retirement and not filling vacant positions.
Pandemic closures have saved the district about $1.4 million dollars, and COVID-19 relief packages have helped keep it afloat, but Dubost said it's not enough.
“Lots and lots of critical issues facing the district at a real crossroads, so I'm thrilled that there are 12 people willing to commit themselves to the riggers of the campaign and all the slings and arrows of criticism and everything and willing to do a job that doesn't pay anything for community service,” Dubost said.
For now, he said the district’s main goals are returning to safe in-person learning, financial stability, academic success and a unified board and community.
He hopes the district can achieve that with newly elected board members.
“I really hope that we can do some critical work between now and the end of November so that when we come back we really have the spirit of unity and one for all and empathy and tolerance and don't go back to our former groups and all come together as Bearcats would be my dream,” he said.
The district applied for a waiver to reopen elementary schools by the end of November.