District trustees also approve purchase of 1,100 iPads

PASO ROBLES — Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the 2020 Budget Act, the state’s $202.1 billion spending plan last month, and it is just what Paso Robles Joint Unified School District needed. 

PRJUSD put its not-so-rosy budget in place before the state finalized its plan like it is supposed to do, knowing it was going to be revised. PRJUSD Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Brad Pawlowski presented the positive revisions to trustees during Tuesday’s, Aug. 11, meeting. 

“We were able to change our revenue significantly. We had planned from the May revision — we anticipated our revenue going down approximately 7.92%,” Pawlowski reported. “That has changed with the signing of the budget.”

PRJUSD is currently projecting a positive reserve of 9.29% for the 2020-2021 school year.

School districts are going to see additional funds from the state for employer contribution rates to retirement.

Special Education funding was increased by the state from $557.27 per average daily attendance (ADA) in 2019-2020 to $625 per ADA for the 2020-2021 year.

COVID-19 has created some previously unforeseen costs for the District, Pawlowski said, such as costs for air filtration, maintaining social distancing, personal protective equipment (PPE) for students and teachers, and possibly testing and contact tracing.

Paso Robles District Nurse Ashley Aiello received a new job description. She is now Coordinator II-Health Services/District nurse. Working under the Director of Special Education with the school administration and state and local health agencies, Aiello will “provide leadership to ensure maximum effectiveness of a comprehensive school health program.”

Aiello will be responsible for developing and communicating health policies and ensuring the District’s compliance with state and local policies and procedures. 

“Her hard work and dedication to our students and our community is really unbelievable, and we are so happy to have her for more days—we are very proud of her,” said PRJUSd Deputy Superintendent Jennifer Gaviola.

Trustees approved, 6-1 with Chris Bausch voting no, extending the contracts of Pawlowski and Gaviola. Their new contract will be for July 1, 2020, through June 20, 2024. There were no changes to their commitments. Bausch wanted the contracts to be for two years.

“We’ve been through a lot in the last few years — these two have been really steadfast and instrumental in getting us back on our feet,” trustee Joel Peterson said. “The consistency, the expertise, the compassion, the empathy, all those things they put into this district are needed.”

The state requires schools, distance-learning or not, to have students interact with teachers and other students. To make this possible schools are purchasing Chromebooks, creating a shortage of the device. 

PRJUSD trustees had approved an order placed for Chromebooks last month, but will not be able to get them because of the shortage. To remedy the problem, the school board approved the purchase of 1,100 iPads for pre-kindergarten through first-grade students. 

The original purchase of Chromebooks came to $293,420, but it will cost twice as much to purchase the iPads. The cost of the iPads with T-Mobile connectivity and AppleCare was $752,004.

The District approved the purchase of T-Mobile hotspots for students without internet access. The reliability of T-Mobile service is questionable for students outside of Paso Robles proper. The contract with T-Mobile is month to month, allowing the District to find another option if it is unreliable for rural students.

PRJUSD is looking into other ways to keep rural students connected through the internet. This includes connecting families with services such as Outback Internet and Ranch WiFi.

Paso Robles Joint Unified School District opens the school year on Aug. 20 with distance learning.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles