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New budget plan would have school district back on track to restore reserves 

–The Paso Robles School District Board of Trustees received an update on the school’s budget from Chief Business Officer Brad Pawlowski at their most recent meeting.

Pawlowski prefaced his comments by saying that if the state legislature implements any changes to funding, he will bring those changes back to the board. He said after cutting $2.5 million dollars from the budget, the district will have a 2.01-percent budget reserve at the end of the 2019-20 fiscal year. That will improve to 2.38-percent in 2020-21, and 3.01-percent in the fiscal year 2021-22. The state requires districts the size of Paso Robles School District to have a budget reserve of at least 3-percent.

The district reserve was 10-percent when Dr. Kathy McNamara left office five years ago. In the five interim years, former Superintendent Chris Williams and his trustees spent $7 million dollars of the reserve fund and $5 million dollars received from FEMA for the damage suffered in the San Simeon Earthquake in 2003. Pawlowski says the district still needs to cut $800,000 from its budget to reach the 3.01-percent reserve level targeted for fiscal year 2021-21.

The board also received an update on the Paso Robles High School Aquatic Complex. CBO Brad Pawloski says he will present different options for funding the pool. He says one of his greatest concerns is the cost of operating the pool, which he estimates to be $400,000 per year. He says construction will not begin until the school district reaches 3-percent reserve, which is not projected for several years.

Trustee Chris Arend said he would like more aggressive budget cutting to reach that level sooner. “The economy is pretty good right now. We need that reserve in case the economy goes south.”

The school board also received a presentation from Colonel Tim Vincent of the California National Guard about options for a Junior ROTC or California Cadet Program. He says the Cadet Program is expanding. He says the emphasis is on leadership, not military. He also told the school board that the district can devise the kind of Cadet Corps that it wants. The program is headquartered in San Luis Obispo. It offers class credit for students in 4th through 12th grades.

Incoming Superintendent Curt Dubost outlined five goals he will work to accomplish when he takes over next week. He says his first priority is to build trust and transparency. He also wants to address disruptive students who are making education more difficult for students who want to learn.

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