Positive signs for PRJUSD finances; new Paso Robles High principal named

New Paso Robles High School Principal Anthony Overton, left, poses with interim Paso Robles Joint Unified School District Superintendent Julian Crocker. (Photo courtesy of Paso Robles Joint Unified School District)

PASO ROBLES — The takeaways from Paso Robles Joint Unified School District’s “Second Interim” financial report Tuesday was that the District remains on track, but there’s still a great deal of work and tough decisions ahead.

The report represents all known and actual information from July 1, 2018, through Jan. 31, 2019 for the current budgeted revenues and expenditures for the unrestricted and restricted budgets, according to PRJUSD Chief Busines Officer Brad Pawloski explained.

The interim report, Pawlowski continued, includes a multi-year financial projection and requires trustees to certify whether or not, based upon these projections, they believe the school district will be able to meet its financial obligations for the current, 2018-19, and two following school years, 2019-20 and 2020-21.

District staff recommended trustees certify the report as qualified based.

“A qualified certification indicates the district may not meet its financial obligations for the current or two subsequent fiscal years,” Pawlowski said in his staff report. “Currently PRJUSD has a 1.64 percent reserve [$1.303 million] which is below the required 3 percent reserve for a positive certification.”

After thanking the staff for their work, trustees voted unanimously, 6-0, for a qualified certification. Trustee Tim Gearhart was absent from the meeting.

The positive movement in the reserve was welcomed news considering at the conclusion of the 2017-18 budget cycle, the reserve was at .96 percent. School districts the size of Paso Robles are required by the state to have a reserve of at least 3 percent. Falling below the required reserved, triggered fiscal oversight from the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education.

District trustees resolved to follow the strong suggestion from the County Office of Education to cut $2.9 million from the next two budgets — $2.1 million for 2019-20 and then $800,000 in 2020-21.

Last month, based on staff recommendation after input from multiple stakeholders, trustees made the reductions officials and met the first large target.

The reserve with $2.1 million in reductions, Pawlowski said, including $382,000 annually that would have gone to operate the new aquatics center had it been built, officially in place was projected to be 1.89 percent, $1.483 million for the 2019-20 budget. Looking to the 2020-21 budget, the reserve grows to $2.32 percent, $1.846 million, after the additional $800,000 in reductions.

“We are still a ways away from our 3 percent reserve,” Pawlowski said. “The County has said we can take credit for the operating costs as part of that $800,000. We can do that. But my fear is if we do that we continually kick the can down the road.”

Pawlowski estimated it would take another $600,000 more in cuts to get to the 3 percent goal in 20-21.

“Oh my goodness… wow,” said Trustee Chris Bausch upon hearing Pawlowski’s estimate. “I’m glad you clarified that because I thought if we came up with the $800,000 we’d be at 3 percent.”

District and County officials did say that they could get some help if Governor Gavin Newsom follows through on his promise to give more money to schools. The governor’s $209-million budget proposal included a record $80.7 billion for K-12 education.

Officials also said they could not budget for that until it actually happens.

“Hope is not a strategy,” Pawloski said.

Going forward the budget does not include such things as bus replacement, technology replacement or increases to compensation.

NEW HIRES

During Tuesday’s meeting, the board approved the hiring of new principals at Paso Robles High School and the Arts Academy at Bauer Speck and a new vice principal at Lewis Middle School.

Anthony Overton will be the next principal of Paso Robles High School. Overton is currently an assistant principal at PRHS.

Overton, according to the District, has been with PRJUSD for the last nine years in the following roles: science teacher, activities director and most recently vice principal at Paso Robles High School.

He received the teacher of the year at Paso Robles High School in 2015. In his nine years, he has also been an assistant coach for Bearcats cross country and head coach for Bearcats track and field.

He earned his bachelor’s, credential and master’s from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.

He was also recognized countywide in 2017 as one of the Top 20 under 40.

Overton stated, "He is so thankful for this opportunity and looks forward to working with the amazing team of teachers at Paso Robles High School."

Pat Butler Elementary Guidance Specialist Shanna Ray is the new principal of the Arts Academy at Bauer-Speck.

Ray has spent the last 10 years in education, according to the District. In Paso Robles, she has served as both an instructional coach and guidance specialist. In her time as an administrator, Ray has strived to ensure students receive high-quality social and emotional supports to allow them optimal success in the classroom.

Ray said she is overjoyed to be in the service of the staff, families, and students of The Arts Academy at Bauer Speck for the 2019-2020 school year.

Ray was provided with the opportunity to participate in choir in elementary school and participated in the Chamber Choir in High School, attending regional and state competitions. Thus, her love of music and the arts make her a great addition to the staff at TAABS.

Ray’s ultimate goal  is to “Be nice and work hard!” as this ensures that “Every student will have success!”

In other matters trustees:

Approved appointment of Lars Boje Jorgensen and Diane A. Ward to the Citizens’ Oversight Committee.

Approved the contract for Flamson Middle School temporary campus bid to the Klassen Corporation.

Denied the request by parents for EAP (transitional bilingual program) at Virginia Peterson Elementary.

Denied request by 4A Foundation for approval of nine board members. Majority of trustees, Chris Bausch, Christopher Arend, Stephanie Ulibarri and Lance Gannon, took issue with former PRJUSD trustees Matt McClish and Field Gibson and current trustee Joan Summers.

Approved having a school board meeting on March 26.

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