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Paso Robles Joint Unified School District talks budget cuts

Posted at 11:48 PM, Feb 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-13 09:49:31-05

The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District is facing a $2 million budget deficit.

The Board of Trustees met Tuesday night to discuss how to cut the $2 million from the budget for the 2019-20 school year.

Though board members did not take any action at the meeting, they did look at nearly 20 proposed spending reductions.

One of the proposals, early retirement incentives for 39 educators (30 certificated and 9 classifieds).

A local representative of a teacher union, California School Employees Association says some of their members are happy to accept.

“It’s going to benefit and help the classified that are able to stay,” said Jeannine Manninger, California School Employees Association Chapter 254

The president of the board says they hope to keep cuts away from the classroom.

“Of  the $2.1 million, we are able to keep them out of the classroom, and we’ve done the best that we can do to that.”

The board is also looking at pulling nearly $800,000 from programs like music and dance.

One Paso Robles music teacher says cutting a position would mean no music for some grade levels.

“The music would be eliminated for kindergarten, first and second grade,” said Kata Linfield, a Paso Robles K-5 music teacher. “By the time they get to third grade, they won’t have some of those core music fundamentals.”

Another local teacher says some of the proposed programs cuts unfairly impact elementary schools.

“We’ve had cuts for the last couple of years at our elementary sites that have greatly impacted our teacher morale,’ said Terri Pearl, a Paso Robles intervention reading teacher. “Our teachers are stressed.”

Some open positions like the district athletic director and director of schools, vacated in December, may not be filled.

Instead, those duties would be assigned to other administrators.

The board hopes to avoid layoffs, but say they can’t take it off the table yet.

“As a parent and as a classified employee, we continue to show up and give our students that feeling that there is nothing wrong,” said Manninger. “It’s important for them to have that success.”

The Paso Robles Community Day School could also close it’s doors.

Currently, 13 students are enrolled, but it is suggested that those students continue their classes at other district sites.

Nearly $2 million needs to be cut for the upcoming school year, but an additional $800,000 must be cut for the 2020-21 school year.

Even then, they will not meet the minimum budget reserve level so money-saving efforts will likely continue beyond those projected years.

The board thanks everyone for continuous efforts on the road to recovery.

According to the SLO County Superintendent, board members must take action on the proposed budget cuts within the next two weeks.

Their next meeting takes place Tuesday, February 26th at 5 p.m.