Trustees take a moment of silence in honor of Detective Luca Benedetti

PASO ROBLES — The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District (PRJUSD) met on May 11 for a regularly scheduled school board meeting. 

Board President Chris Arend opened the meeting with a moment of silence for Luca Benedetti, a San Luis Obispo Police Department (SLOPD) officer killed in the line of duty on May 10 as a result of a shooting that occurred while SLOPD officers were serving a search warrant.

Arend gave a few words before the moment of silence, “We are going to take a moment of silence to remember a police officer. A great police officer who was killed yesterday by a vicious murderer. We lost one of our blue line people here in the county yesterday, Luca Benedetti, detective. And so we will observe a moment of silence.”

Getting through this together, Paso Robles

Arend then proceeded to lead the Pledge of Allegiance to begin the meeting.

Holly Moore was announced as the new Winifred Pifer principal.

Moore comes with 16 years of teaching experience, countywide leadership in the science/stem grant, and two successful years as a guidance specialist in the District. 

Then Audra Carr was named the Bauer Speck principal.

Carr has taught for 21 years and has been a district lead in GATE education. She has completed the last two years as the vice principal at Flamson Middle School. 

Before public comment began, Arend gave a few words, “We’ve had an issue here, as many of you know. We have speakers who have wanted to speak to us in Spanish although they speak fluent English. I have called that to order several times. The reason is, we have a duty under the California Consitution, as officials in this state, to promote and enhance the use of English as the common language, and I happen to take duties very seriously.

However, this has created a fair amount of strife in meetings, and I have not had the support of the board members yet. 

So until further notice, anyone in the public who wishes to address the Board can address us in any language they wish to, and if we can translate it, we will. If they wish to translate it themselves, they can, and that will be the end of this subject until further notice.”

Public comment consisted of eight comments, all mainly written to the Board.

The majority of the comments asked the District to start preparing for full in-person learning, with pre-covid regulations, for the next school year. 

There were other calls concerned about the closure of the Georgia Brown Elementary School campus.

The Board then held their second public hearing on the “Potential Composition of Trustee-Area Election System Commencing with the 2022 Governing Board Election Action.”

From the agenda item summary:

“The District’s Board of Trustees is currently elected under an “at-large” election system, where trustees are elected by voters of the entire District. Seven trustees are elected in even-numbered years and serve staggered four-year terms. On Feb. 26, 2019, the Board adopted Resolution No. 19-15, a Resolution Approving Authorization to Initiate a Transition to a By-Trustee Area Election System Commencing with the 2022 Governing Board Election. Because this resolution proposed the change would be based on 2020 census data, which has been delayed due to the COVID pandemic, on Apr. 27, the Board adopted Resolution 21-22 to reaffirm the decision, but to use 2010 census data to draw the initial maps. Those maps would be reviewed and possibly revised prior to the 2022 election once the 2020 census data is released.

The District’s demographers, Cooperative Strategies, LLC, presented information on the process and criteria for drawing the trustee-area boundary maps during April 27, 2021, Board meeting. Now that the Board and community have received the informative presentation, the Board will hold its second statutorily required hearing to receive input from the community on the trustee-area map creation process, pursuant to Elections Code section 10010(a)(1).”

The first public hearing for the potential change to the election system was held at the last regular meeting on Apr. 27.

There were no comments from the public during that meeting, and Board member Chris Bausch raised concerns over how the hearing was advertised to the public.

Brad Powlowski informed the Board how the second hearing was advertised:

“The Public Hearing Notice has been posted on the District’s website (homepage), Facebook, School Sites, District Office Bulletin Board, newspaper ad (The San Luis Obispo Tribune), and PR Daily News online.  

A Press Release was also distributed to over a dozen local media outlets.”

There were still no comments from the public for the public hearing.

Jen Gaviola and Powlowski provided a presentation for a staffing plan for learning loss mitigation and current funding related to COVID relief.

The mitigation plan is for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school year for in-person instruction.

The Board unanimously approved the motion.

Some of the new positions will include elementary math intervention, behavior paraeducators, school psychologist, intervention teacher PRHS-credit recovery, and an LVN.

Sources for the funding will come from CARES and AB 86 (Expanded Learning Opportunity and In-Person Instructional Grant).

The AB 86 grant is a one-time funding grant of $6,700,000 with $2,000,000 going towards in-person instruction costs.

The other $4,700,000 belongs to the Expanded Learning Opportunity Grant. This grant will include extending instructional learning time beyond requirements and pupil supports such as mental health services, meal programs, and before and after school programs, and more.

Superintendent Curt Dubost provided an update on legislation relating to grading and retention during COVID.

The update says the following in the information item summary:

“Two bills making their way through the legislative process would deal with parent requests to keep their child retained at their 2020–21 grade level for the 2021–22 school year. 

Assembly Bill (AB) 104 would require local educational agencies (LEAs) to implement a temporary interim retention policy by Jun. 1, including an application that allows parents to request their child be retained for the 2021–22 school year.

Senate Bill (SB) 545 is less prescriptive than AB 104 in that it does not establish a new process for student retention. SB 545 is looking for LEAs to leverage the $4.6 billion in the Expanded Learning Opportunities Grants to support student retention policies. 

We will continue to inform the Board and parents of any new developments.”

The entire meeting can be viewed at youtube.com/channel/UCTG5DZtaQn-Mo3IGcohE2Mw. 

The next regular meeting is scheduled for May 25, with open session beginning at 6 p.m.