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Letter to the editor: School district is making significant fiscal mistakes based on emotions 

letter to the editor

To the editor,

Publishing these comments is an important step in providing the public “context” from the superintendent who has the responsibility of running the day-to-day operations of the school district.

Most people have only a thumbnail understanding as to what occurred at the last school board meeting where many millions of dollars were on the table. The school board on a 4-to-3 vote voted to keep a school open that is not needed and will cost the district another $900,000 a year to operate annually.

Taxpayers need to be informed. This school district is making significant mistakes fiscally based on “emotions”. When emotion is the main reason Fiscal decisions are made it rarely works out well especially with the numbers we are looking at here. We have 2,100 more seats than students to fill them. To put this is perspective that equals 3 schools!

I would hope you would publish Dr. Dubost’s statement attached to give the readers and taxpayers of the district a proper understanding of what is actually happening. As a member of the 7/11 committee who looked at overcapacity and voting to close one school which was the oldest and most disrepair, it’s apparent this district cannot do simple math!

Michael Rivera
Paso Robles, CA

Attachment:

Statement from Superintendent Dubost
Re: Agenda Item I.1, Regular Meeting of the Board of Trustees
February 8, 2022

One of the most difficult yet most essential tasks for any organization is to make sure it is correctly sized to optimize efficiency, but also to serve its primary purpose, in our case, the education of our youth. You are faced this evening with a difficult choice between what the numbers and the finances tell you and what a significant portion of the public feels from their perspective is an opportunity to keep a commitment and show
fundamental fairness.

As I have often stated, the most obvious objective decision based on our budget and enrollment projections would have been to abandon one elementary school. Even if we had limitless money to build whatever we want, which we don’t, it’s incredibly difficult to justify spending any public money on remodeling and/or new construction of classrooms when by any objective analysis we have perhaps a thousand student seats vacant in the district, depending on how we count them. When we ask the public for extra money, like in Measure M, the assumption is we absolutely must have the money to
accommodate students. Retirees and others with no kids nor grandkids in school are asked to pay additional property taxes to provide necessary schools. Given our overall history with public distrust of the District’s financial oversight, I certainly don’t look forward to answering to those who question why we would ever build more classrooms when we verifiably already have too many.

That said, numerous people have passionately spoken to non-financial reasons to renovate both Speck and Georgia Brown and to rebuild both schools on the west side as originally envisioned. That is not the most prudent financial decision I think all have to agree, and we couldn’t even begin to entertain that possibility until our finances recently and dramatically improved, at least for now. A proposal to rebuild Georgia Brown to a smaller capacity has been offered as a compromise and there are many variations on that option that continue to be discussed. Whatever decision is made
needs to be made soon as costs are rising and time is wasting. Our recommendation continues to mirror the specific advice offered in the Krum Report to spend as little Measure M money as possible on classrooms as we already have plenty more than we project we will need. We also have more Measure M projects than money to complete them, most problematically at Lewis Middle School. For these reasons, we recommend Option A or a variation thereof.


Editor’s note: Option A, recommended by district staff, was to keep all schools open, change attendance boundaries to eliminate magnet boundary only, smaller modernization at Georgia Brown campus and begin immediately. The board opted for a complicated set of steps outlined here: School board approves plan for elementary school changes. Opinion pieces and letters to the editor are the personal opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Paso Robles Daily News or its staff. We welcome letters from local residents regarding relevant local topics. To submit one, click here.

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