Former Bearcat Jennifer Loftus will officially begin her role as the new superintendent on July 1

PASO ROBLES — District staff and the Board of Trustees took a moment to recognize and thank Paso Robles Joint Unified School District Superintendent Curt Dubost during his last board meeting (Tuesday, June 25) before retirement. 

Trustee President Nathan Williams said to Dubost, “I know that from me to you, over the last year and a half seated alongside you here, working with you day in and day out, it has been an absolute honor and privilege to have served alongside you.”

Dubost is retiring after serving the district as superintendent for the last five years. Former Bearcat  Jennifer Loftus will officially begin her role as the new superintendent on July 1. 

Trustees all took a moment to thank Dubost — Trustee Kenney Enney was absent from the meeting.

Trustee Sondra Williams thanked Dubost for his hand in shaping her and her daughter into who they are today.

“You [are] largely why I sit here,” she said. “I feel like I grew up with you. I feel like you were a part of the raising of me. From being part of my core education when I was young to raising Naya with your guidance … You took her at a time when she was real broken and wasn’t sure about education, and you gave her a voice, and you made her know how important and powerful she is and she is going and running the world because you gave her that opportunity.

“I know where your heart is. I know it’s been really hard. I dont think anybody told you, you were going to do a pandemic and the social justice explosion and all of the things that you were challenged with when you got pulled back out of retirement. You could have left us … but you stayed, and it was hard for you.”

Trustee Dorian Baker worked under Dubost as a teacher when he was superintendent at the San Miguel Joint Union School District. She gave him and his wife well wishes and credited him for bringing the Almond Acres Charter School to the San Miguel District prior to coming to PRJUSD

“You had the foresight and the courage to invite almond acres when they couldn’t find a home here in Paso Robles …that provides choice to so many families, and choice is very, very important,” Baker said to Dubost.

Dubost thanked the board for their comments and took a moment to reflect on his last five years with the district.

“It has been an absolute honor to serve these last five years. Although I am very disappointed we weren’t able to raise our test scores and fully address a number of issues of controversy, I do feel confident in saying the district is in better shape than it was then,” said Dubost, who noted that academic achievement in the district is not where he wants it but he hopes that under the leadership of Loftus, they can get there. 

He continued to reflect on the last five years:

“A grand jury report offered a scathing assesment of the district’s mismanagment. Rumors of conspiracies and mathesients ran rampunt. Racial strith had manifestied itself in several well publicized incidents at the high school. teachers complained bitteryly about student misconduct and several rightfully feared for their safety in the classroom.

“Issues that followed in quick succession included a contentious national election, COVID, culture wars, Black Lives Matter protests, a particularly ugly anti-LGBTQ incident brought issues of bullying of marginalized students to the forefront. Education had become more of a political issue nationally and locally than it had ever been before. Lots of key staff members left the district. A charter school moved here from San Miguel. Plans to rebuild Georgia Brown were refined multiple times. Elections changed the board. A special election divided the community further. A seismic anomaly forced us to abandon plans to rebuild Georgia Brown and, in turn, close Lewis Middle School and reconfigure our two middle schools into one 7-8 junior high. A compromise was reached to construct a scaled-down aquatics complex across the street.”

Some things Dubost says he wish he handled differently.

“Lots of mistakes were made, and I certainly wished I had a do over on my response to the LGBTQ incident, among others,” he said. “I truly wish that more progress had been made on many of the issues with regard to our marginalized students and bullying.”

He concluded with, “Thank you for the opportunity to serve my hometown, this final chapter of my long career. I appreciate you very much.”

The next Paso Robles Joint Unified School District meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 9.