The DAC will also review enrollment projections and district capacity
PASO ROBLES — Trustees have approved a 22-person District Advisory Committee (DAC) to review enrollment projections, district capacity, and the future of the Dual Immersion program. The decision took place at the Tuesday, Sept. 26, Paso Robles Joint Unified School District meeting.
The committee will be providing trustees with a recommendation regarding either a possible school closure and the possible growth of the Dual Immersion program. Staff presented 11 potential candidates but recommended that the committee be made of at least 15 people. However, trustees gave staff direction to make it a committee of 22 people.
Applicants for DAC received are Courtney Perales, Cynthia Steaffens, Hunter Breese, James Pahler, Jennifer Railsback, Karla Butterfield, Katie Banister, Laura Parker, Sara Lopus, Tracy Dauterman, and Wayne Peterson. However, the updated list of approved applicant names was not available online for the public.
Staff will come back to the trustees with their specific requests in writing for the DAC to investigate.
For months, the district has been looking at options for the Georgia Brown Elementary Campus on 36th Street. The campus’s need for renovations has set the District on a long road to recovery.
In May, a geohazard study result revealed a potential danger lurking beneath Georgia Brown Elementary School in Paso Robles. From the results of the study, it was confirmed that an “anomalous feature” exists directly under the current campus. This is prompted a pause to any construction on the site due to complications with receiving approvals from the Department of the State Architect (DSA). Since then, the District has been in limbo, trying to find the best option to move forward.
At the Sept. 12 meeting, trustees directed staff to present modernization or alteration options that could be considered for the Georgia Brown campus. The architect of record for this project, Alan Kroeker, presented options to the board with potential budget estimates.
It is estimated that alterations to modernize the Georgia Brown campus will cost over $18.6 million to reach the 45 percent cost to qualify, not needing approval from DSA, but the project already had an estimated budget set in the mount of about $15 million.
“My fear is that we actually get to the point where we are mid-project, and we do not have the funds to complete it,” said Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Brad Pawlowski.
Other projects on the docket for the district include the $11 million-plus Aquatics Complex, $1 million to update security throughout the district, and the over $5 million Multi-Purpose Room (MPR) for the 17th Street campus to name a few.
Trustee Dorian Baker suggested the board press pause on making any decision to allow the DAC to complete their research and provide options for moving forward.
Pawlowski issued concerns that if the district were to move forward with the Georgia Brown campus remodel as is, it could find itself having to abandon unfinished projects especially with cost for labor and materials continuing to rise.
“This is my professional opinion as the CBO of the district,” he said. “Since I have been here in the last five years, we have declined in enrollment of over 500 students. It is the size of an elementary school. We are still on that path to a decline in enrollment.”
Pawlowski said the location of the Georgia Brown campus was also a concern.
“Any potential growth in this community is not going to happen on the west side of town. It will be happening on the east side of town,” he said. “With the challenge of transportation that we continue to face. I don’t see that improving significantly over time, so if there was to be a school ever built or an addition to schools, you want it in an area where it is close to neighborhoods where students are. That would be on the east side of town.
“I don’t say this lightly, but our District needs one less elementary school. The numbers are clearly there. I would agree with Mrs. Baker that we pause on this. We let this committee do some serious work and look at this.”
Some of the trustees disagreed, including Joel Peterson and Sondra Williams, who felt there will always be children who need a school on the west side of Paso Robles.
Trustee Kenney Enney echoed Pawlowski’s concerns and that they should wait for the DAC to research and obtain as much information as possible.
“It’s going to look bad if we get to the point that our funds are dwindling and we have to choose, it’s going to send the wrong message if we choose a swimming pool,” Enney said.
Trustees made a decision to pause on making any decision for moving forward with Georgia Brown campus plans until DAC comes back with options.
The next Paso Robles Joint Unified School District meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 6 p.m.