'Heart-wrenching' cuts coming for Paso Robles school district

Mar 13, 2020

The Paso Robles Unified School District is facing a $2.3 million dollar budget shortfall. Causes range from cut federal funding, low enrollment, increased insurance premiums, higher workers compensation costs and more.

And, overspending by former district administration.

Current superintendent Curt DuBost told KCBX News the district made some overestimations that cost them.

“About 18 months ago, there had been some overly optimistic projections on enrollment and income and perhaps some hiring had been done,” said DuBost. “That was unwise. That resulted in the district having less than a 1% reserve.”

Public school districts the size of the Paso Robles Unified School District have to maintain at least a three percent reserve, according to the California Department of Education.

DuBost said the problem of decreased enrollment is a statewide problem, not just in Paso Robles. But, Paso Robles schools lost 50 students this year, and may lose as many as 150 students next year.

“We have to at least consider the possibility of closing for a year—and we hope not longer—one of our elementary schools,” DuBost said. “Because our long term projections for enrollment growth look like, even with all the new construction coming in Paso, that we're going to be at best flat in enrollment, not growing.”

At the March 10 board meeting, teachers and students came together to show support for the programs on the chopping block.

“I was totally impressed with the kids and the presentation that they made, and and proud that we had developed such articulate spokespersons, for the passion that they share,” said DuBost. “And the same with the teachers, who are so totally committed to doing whatever they can for their kids. So it was a heart wrenching night.”

DuBost said no matter what, there are going to be cuts.

The district’s board trustees voted to lay off an elementary music teacher and a career technical education A/V teacher at the high school. 13 staff members will also be getting a pink slip.