PRJUSD seating new board Tuesday, contending with financial issues

First order of business will be finances and replacing superintendent

PASO ROBLES — Three new Paso Robles school board trustees will be sworn in Tuesday, Dec. 11, and then the hard work begins.

Christopher Arend, Lance Gannon and Stephanie Ulibarri will begin their tenure on the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District board and out of the gate will begin the process of finding a new superintendent after the abrupt resignation of Chris Williams and begin grappling with the district’s budget woes.

Williams resigned during a special meeting on Thursday, Dec. 6, along with District Director of K12 Physical Education and Athletics Rich Clayton and District Director of Student Services Kristin Shouse. Williams did not indicate why he was leaving.

The timing is curious as the newly elected board members were critics of Williams and district administration in its handling of the budget during their campaigns and his departure comes less than a week ahead of the district’s first major report on its finances.

A first report that shows the District’s finances are not headed in a positive direction.

According to the first interim financial report prepared for Tuesday’s regular board meeting, the board and the district will be contending with a nearly $3 million budget shortfall — $2.1 million in 2019-20 and $800,000 in 2020-21 — and the possibility of layoffs as a result.

One bright spot in the report was that the District’s reserve had improved to 1.73 percent up from .96 percent at the end of the 2017-18 school year. The state requires a reserve of 3 percent and since Paso Robles fell below the mark it triggered assistance from the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education.

According to published reports, County Office of Education Superintendent Jim Brescia will personally be handling Tuesday’s meeting until an interim Superintendent is named.

Unfortunately, that positive move in the reserve will not last as, according to the interim report, the district is on pace to for a -0.78 percent reserve by 2020-21.

Also on the agenda is a resolution confirming the District’s commitment to fiscal solvency and will do so by “reducing expenditures in all budget areas including salaries, employee benefits, services and operating expenses, capital outlay, other outgoing and other financing sources” and “absent a material positive change in the District’s projected revenues or reduction in District expenses, the District will be required to consider and implement budget reductions in force beginning in FY 2019-20 of Certificated positions and Classified, Management and Confidential positions, plus reductions in books and supplies, services and operating expenses, totaling approximately $2.1 Million, to be identified on or before February 28, 2019 to address the District’s negative ending fund balance for 2019-20; and an additional $800,000 in additional reductions for the Fiscal Year 2020-21, to be identified within the 2019-20 fiscal year.”

The school board will meet on Tuesday, Dec. 11, at 5 p.m. at the district administration office, 800 Niblick Rd.


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