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Protest by Paso Robles Joint Unified School District teachers over cost of living raise

Paso Robles school district names interim superintendent
Posted at 6:15 AM, Oct 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-27 09:15:13-04

Kristin Usilton has been teaching in Paso Robles for six years and like many other teachers, she's finding it difficult to make ends meet.

Paso Robles Joint Unified School District teachers have been protesting for a raise since December.

The county received a 5.07 percent cost of living adjustment that will be deposited into the district's budget.

Teachers are asking for the 5.07 percent to go straight to the teachers, but the district has put the cost of living adjustment into the contract of the superintendent, who's contract will be renewed Tuesday night, offering to give him any or all of the cost of living adjustment.

"It's unjust that it goes to the higher-ups when it should go to the people who are literally putting their feet to the pavement to feed and help these students," said PRJUSD teacher Kristin Usilton.

Teachers also protested for 50/50 insurance. Usilton said the PRJUSD is one of the only districts in the state where teachers are paying full coverage for their health insurance.

Usilton added she paid more than 600 dollars a month for health insurance out of her already limited budget.

Most teachers in the district have more than one job in order to make ends meet.

"PRJUSD teachers have not had a raise in three years and the last time we had a raise it was a little over one percent," said PRJUSD teacher Melena Smirl.

Smirl said that the raise did not meet the cost of living increase at that time, creating financial hardship for teachers that has only gotten worse as the cost of living on the central coast increases and teacher salaries remain stagnant.

"I'm one of those teachers that's going through hardships, I actually had to move to Paso so that I could afford the gas to be commuting," said Usilton.

Hardships from teachers were shared Tuesday night at the board of trustee's meeting.

"If you want to support us, if you want to show us respect, pay us a living wage," said Smirl.

The PRJUSD Board of Trustees and Superintendent Curt Dubost declined our request for comment.