Community members address concerns regarding the behavior of some board members

PASO ROBLES — The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District (PRJUSD) Board of Trustees met for their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday night. A new translation system has been put in place to provide real-time Spanish translation. For a real-time Spanish translation of the meeting, a separate Zoom link is available on the agenda.

To call in and make a public comment in Spanish, call (805)608-4230.

During public comment, some concern was raised in regards to the behavior of some board members.

Both comments addressed trustee Chris Bausch’s remarks when he was on KPRL’s “Sound Off” on Feb. 22.

Susan Holt called in addressing comments made by a trustee on a radio show when they criticized Chris Arend, “I am calling in this evening to say that I believe Chris Arend is doing an excellent job as board president. He is focused on current issues and not hung up on the past. His integrity and professionalism are what we need for this board, and I do hope other board members will follow his lead and work with him on fixing current issues like getting all of our kids back to school. I don’t understand how anyone on the board member can go on public radio and publicly criticize another board member instead of spending that energy on working together as a team.”

Another written comment was read, “My comment today regards some of the behavior I see coming from your board room. There is a certain trustee that falls asleep every meeting. How disrespectful to the students, our community, and the staff members who have prepared presentations for you. I understand this person stays home because he refuses to wear a mask. How then do you ask teachers to return to work and use the required PPE if you yourself cannot mask up and show up for our community?

Additionally, there is a second trustee who speaks on public radio to defame staff and fellow trustees. This is unbelievably shameful behavior. You cannot claim to speak as a public citizen but then read district email on-air and then proceed to provoke County Superintendent, Dr. Brescia. You are in charge of our children, and that worries me. Thank you for the remaining trustee. Your behavior is that of leaders. Mr. Bausch and Mr. Reed needs to wake up figuratively and literally.”

Neither Reed nor Bausch responded to the comments.

A member from the Swim Paso Association (SPA) called in requesting the board to add discussion of the Aquatics Complex to the March agenda, which SPA announced they would do in a Feb. 18 press release.

SPA hopes to work with the district to move forward on this “school board and voter-approved Measure M project.”

The press release also announced SPA is preparing to apply for a $3 million grant, which would provide most of the remaining funds needed for Phase One of the Aquatic Complex build-out.

From the press release:

“SPA is asking for the PRJUSD School Board to review this project as intended and to allow work in the nature of applications, fundraising, and donation commitments, collaborative discussions with community partners, and additional mutually agreed upon steps required to prepare to build this long-awaited project.”

Trustees approved staff to move forward with developing a Plan B for returning students to school to be presented during the Mar. 9 board meeting.

The motion approved was:

“The Board directs the Superintendent to bring contingency Plan B for board approval on Mar. 9 to reopen all schools in a hybrid model if the Mar. 16 reopening fails.”

Essentially, if the county is not moved into the Red Tier by Mar. 9, the board will consider staff’s Plan B to return secondary students to campus by Mar. 19.

The board did clarify that no student or teacher would be required to return to in-person learning if they do not want to return. However, many trustees made it clear they want to see students back on campus by Mar. 16 and no later.

The motion was passed 4-3 with trustees Gannon, Gearhart, and Williams voting no.

The trustees who voted no did so from concerns of the district assuming huge liabilities if they act against what Public Health dictates.

Trustee Dubost, who has commented in past meetings on his frustrations with Government leadership in bringing students back to campus, really pushed on the importance of developing a Plan B for their students.

“I remain extremely frustrated, and I’m worried if it lasts much longer before you know it, we’re gonna come back and meet, and then its spring break, and then before you know it, it’s the end of the year,” said Dubost.

Sixth-grade students are now considered elementary students based on the Safe Schools for All Plan released by the Governor of California, updated on Jan. 14.

The board approved a tentative agreement with Paso Robles Public Educators (PRPE) to return sixth-grade students to in-person services.

PRJUSD sixth-grade students will be returning to in-person instruction on Mar. 4 and 5 with an afternoon orientation and COVID prevention training. On Mar. 8, sixth-grade students will officially begin the hybrid schedule with the first in-person class on Mar. 9.

Deputy superintendent, Jennifer Gaviola, presented a staffing report for the 2021-2022 school year.

Gaviola did note the district is preparing to return to full in-person learning next year, “We need to look at a transition to full in-person instruction-I did not say hybrid-we absolutely are staffing for full in-person learning for next year while supporting the distancing learning for families who so choose.”

Gaviola also gave an update on changes to school sports.

Under the new guidance and requirements, football, soccer, water polo, softball, and baseball can now be played under the Purple Tier.

“That means that we are looking at setting seasons for those sports that we didn’t think we would be able to play,” said Gaviola.

Volleyball, wrestling, and basketball were moved into the Yellow Tier due to being indoor sports.

One of the requirements to play these sports is COVID-19 testing before competition or “game days.” Testing will have to be required by the school.

Many details still need to be worked out in regards to transportation, game schedules, etc.

“It won’t be the season our kids have dreamed of, but it is a season,” Gaviola said.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting is set for Mar. 9 at 5 p.m.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles