Public showed support for teacher pay raises 

PASO ROBLES — The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District met in person for a regularly scheduled school board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 12.

Before public comment, Superintendent Curt Dubost made a statement regarding an incident that happened in September where a Tik Tok video was widely circulated involving a PRHS student defecating on a pride flag.

“First, I do want to apologize to staff and students for the delay in the recent theft and befoulment of a rainbow flag at the high school. This was a vile offense, and students involved have been disciplined in accordance with the District’s policies.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles

The delay, though, in announcing the discipline and the messaging that conflated it with district direction on rainbows in classrooms led to considerable hurt among students who felt their safety was being marginalized. 

I sincerely apologize for that mishandling of the messaging and wish to reiterate our commitment to the safety of all students. I do apologize. 

I also want to comment briefly on the ongoing disputes here locally and around the Nation. We all have to remember we have much more in common than we do that divides us as Americans–we cannot be this divided and thrive or even survive as a Nation. We have to be willing to compromise as much as humanly possible by letting people make their own choices.”

Dubost continued to speak on parents who told him they would take their students out of the District if their needs or views were not met. He explained how this would be detrimental to the District and asked for people to find common ground.

Trustees heard about 30 minutes of public comments in support of teacher pay raises. Many asked for teacher pay to increase to follow the increased cost of living.

Jeannine Manninger, the President of Chapter #254 of the California School Employees Association, said, “We’re not one-time money employees. We are ongoing employees, and we deserve equality and fair wages.”

Justin Pickard, the President of Paso Robles Public Educators, added, “We need to start looking at the bigger picture and the ripple effect that is taken when we don’t invest in the people that make this business run–We need to invest in the people that are the heart and soul of what makes education possible. Not just for teachers but for all employees of this District.”

Comments were also made asking the District not to comply with the future vaccine mandate.  

Board trustee Dorian Baker made a statement, “During this past year we have faced many challenges including distance learning, hybrid learning, debates about Critical Race Theory, ethnic studies, mask mandates, vaccine requirements for staff and now for school children.

At the same time, our population is dealing with the additional stresses of disruption in the supply chain, rapid inflation, border issues, natural disasters, increases in homelessness and crime, and now the recent threat that parents who exercise their civic duty to engage in the process by speaking at a school board meeting may be facing the threat of being investigated as a domestic terrorist.

I feel compelled to make a public statement to the community, staff members, and particularly to the parents who believe as I do that some factions of our government are seizing control that reaches beyond overreach and into the realm of totalitarianism.

I recognize that while we may be legally bound to follow the dictates of our governor, it is my position that we should not be aggressive to get in front of these mandates. Instead, I would like our District to be the last ones to the table. I would expect our staff to be as lenient as possible in accepting exemptions as well as slow to force any draconian vaccine measures.

Furthermore, I invite parents and our local community members, as they have done tonight, to feel both welcomed and encouraged to speak and to feel safe in doing so. I speak at this time for myself and not as the board as a whole.”

Later, Trustees discussed the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds the District will be receiving.

PRJUSD is receiving $10,144,014 in ESSER III funds to support the impact of COVID 19 as it most specifically impacts:

1. Strategies for Continuous and Safe in Person Learning 

2. Addressing Lost Instructional Time (min of 20 percent of allocation)

These funds are one-time funds that must be spent by September 2024. 

ESSER funds under the American Rescue Plan Act, referred to as ESSER III funds are required to develop a plan for how they will use their ESSER III funds. In the plan, the District must explain how it intends to use its ESSER III funds to address students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs and any opportunity gaps that existed before, and were worsened by, the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to PRJUSD ESSER III expenditure plan, funds will be divided as the following:

  • Strategies for Continuous and Safe In-Person Learning – $4,974,000.00
  • Addressing Lost Instructional Time (a minimum of 20 percent of the LEAs ESSER III funds) – $5,080,000.00
  • Use of Any Remaining Funds – $90,014.00

The full expenditure plan can be viewed on the agenda.

After a lengthy discussion and comments from the public, trustees approved the ESSER III expenditure plan with a 7-0 vote.

Some changes were made to the consent agenda.

Item H.3. Approve Renewal of Soliant Client Services Agreement was moved to be action item I.13 due to a cost change.

The cost changed from $75,000 to $143,000 for an in-person Speech and Language Pathologists (SLP) therapist. The motion was passed with a 7-0 vote.

Item H.10. Approve Updates to Board Policy 5145.12 – Search and Seizure, Board Policy 5145.9 – Hate Motivated Behavior, and Board Policy and Administrative Regulation 5148 – Child Care and Development (Second Reading) was pulled for a separate vote. The item was approved with a 7-0 vote.

Trustees also approved 7-0 to table item H.11. Approve Update to Board Policy 6144 – Controversial Issues (Second Reading). The item will be moved to the next regularly scheduled board meeting.

Then, action item I.9. was tabled due to some new costs and will be moved to the next regularly scheduled board meeting.

Towards the end of the meeting, an update was given on the Measure M Bond Project schedule. 

Current Measure M projects are: 

  • Marie Bauer Early Childhood Center – Playground
  • George H. Flamson Middle School – 10 Classroom Building Addition/Independent Skills Program/Temporary Campus Re-Configuration 
  • Glen Speck Arts Academy – New and Retrofit Classroom Buildings/New Multipurpose Room Building
  • Winifred Pifer Elementary School – Roofing Rehabilitation for Buildings 600-900/New Lunch Center/New Roofing and HVAC Equipment 
  • Pat Butler Elementary School – New Lunch Shelter
  • Daniel Lewis Middle School – New Roofing and HVAC Equipment 

The next school board meeting is scheduled for Oct. 26, at 6:00 p.m.