The district has seen a decline in enrolment over the past few years

PASO ROBLES — On Nov. 10, the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District (PRJUSD) held a community meeting at Flamson Middle School to discuss elementary and middle school attendance and possible school closure.

Superintendent Curt Dubost opened the meeting, saying, “The district is currently in a pattern of consistently declining enrollment, as are roughly half the school districts in the State. Most experts attribute this fact to the high cost of living in the area for young families with children, particularly for housing.” 

He continued to explain that with limited funds and declining enrollment, a school closure is possible. It was said that Georgia Brown Elementary School is the most likely option for closure due to the amount of funds it would take to repair the campus. However, it was clarified that the dual immersion program would relocate if Georgia Brown were to close.

Assistant Superintendent Brad Pawlowski gave a presentation outlining projected enrollments and two options staff are looking into as solutions to operate the district more effectively.

Option One involved changing the school boundaries, and option two would include closing the Georgia Brown campus and relocating the dual immersion program. Georgia Brown Elementary School is currently a magnate school utilizing a Spanish-English speaking program with a goal of students speaking both languages fluently by the time they complete grades K-5.

The community has repeatedly spoken against the closure of the Georgia Brown campus. 

Pawlowski reaffirmed Dubost’s earlier statement regarding Georgia Brown, “It’s not closing or eliminating the dual immersion program that’s located at Georgia Brown, it’s just closing the physical site and relocating the dual-immersion program to another campus.”

Initially, money from the Measure M bond was allocated to renovating Georgia Brown and the Glen Speck Elementary school, which is now complete.

Measure M is a general obligation bond approved by voters in November 2016 that was valued at $95 million. It is an additional tax that homeowners within the attendance boundary have taken on, paying extra on their yearly property tax bill. That revenue goes to the PRJUSD to be used for capital facility improvements.

Pawlowski says the money originally allocated to renovate Georgia Brown Elementary in 2017 was never enough to accommodate the full renovation that was needed based on the current enrollment.

“Measure M is sold in multiple series, so we’ve sold series A and series B. That’s valued at $70 million,” Pawlowski said.

He says they still have unsold bonds valued at $25 million.

“So of the money that we have sold, there’s still a remaining $5 million that is unspent. So when you put the $5 million and the $25 million together, you get $30 million left over,” Pawlowski said – not enough to fix up Georgia Brown Elementary School.

Pawlowski says they still have the Georgia Brown renovation funds and have not spent the money on anything else, but it may be reallocated to other projects.

“We would make a decision to reallocate once the board decides on attendance boundaries and a potential school closure,” Pawlowski said.

Following the presentation, attendees broke into groups led by each school campus principal. Each principal was to record all questions, concerns, and feedback.

This meeting was to discuss solutions and collect feedback; no decision was made as to what will happen.