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Superintendent Curt Dubost releases ‘Welcome back’ message 

PRJUSD Curt Dubost sworn in.

Written and submitted by Curt Dubost

Dear Parents and Community:

As I begin my 60th opening of school as a student, teacher or administrator and my 39th year as an administrator, I’m always rejuvenated and inspired by the fresh start and excitement of the reopening of school. This is particularly true this year as I begin my first year as your superintendent. The district administration selected for the theme for this year “Together is Better” and I can’t imagine a better choice. We have an excellent staff and we are all committing with renewed energy to work cooperatively with our teachers and support staff to build trust. We want to earn your confidence that we are managing the district competently. We are committed to open, honest and transparent policies and practices. We are open to your constructive criticism and welcome your input. I may be reached in person or by phone at the district office (805) 769-1000 ext. 30104 or via email at cdubost@pasoschools.org.

An area of immediate attention is restoring sufficient reserves for economic uncertainties and placing the district on a long-term path of stable fiscal solvency. We are well on our way to accomplishing that goal, thanks to the cooperation of our employee associations and the reductions made by your Board of Trustees this previous year. I assure you we are on the right track with reductions through attrition, combining of positions and cost cuts outside the classroom. We are being creative with the use of retirees to backfill some positions and alleviate situations like unwanted combination classes. There are no plans to lay off staff, cut programs, or cut staff compensation. We will all need to be frugal, but also ever willing to invest savings in restoring services and starting new programs as appropriate. The general rule of thumb will be to add half of any savings to building the reserves and the other half to addressing current needs. As I listened to staff during my transition, another area that concerned me is the Facilities Master Plan. The community showed its strong support of its schools by passing Measure M, a $90M authorization to renovate our aging schools and add some new specialty facilities. We are updating the priorities on this plan to make sure it best meets our most critical needs. This will also include an analysis of future school site needs.

Another focus for this year will be on the core academic program. We will strive in every classroom every day to present a challenging curriculum delivered in a competent manner by trained professional educators. We will seek academic rigor to challenge our kids to be their best in the classroom, just as we do on the athletic field, in the arts and in all other areas. We will show how the curriculum is relevant to them and hence why it is important to master. We will demonstrate our commitment to the success of all of our kids. We will challenge kids capable of acceleration and provide enrichment for all.

We will never forget the primary purpose of school is academic learning while supporting that effort through social emotional learning. Our goal will be for each and every child to show at least one year’s growth for every year in school based on whatever his or her individual goals are.

Lastly, the staff listed as its biggest concern the loss of instructional time due to student misconduct, as well as occasional major student disciplinary problems. While the number of student suspensions for misconduct has been increasing substantially every year, the problems don’t seem to be diminishing. The whole issue of suspending kids for defiance and disruption has become a national and state-wide topic of debate.

California is emphasizing restorative justice practices while mandating elementary kids not be suspended for defiance nor disruption. We are working with our teachers, administrators and expert consultants to craft policies that are both effective and legal. Our three-pronged strategy will first be to enforce rigorously our discipline code, especially for chronic offenders. We will seek to help kids meet their behavioral goals, but if that proves ineffective, we will seek a more appropriate placement for them.

Second, each site is developing an on-site room to help kids struggling to maintain in their classrooms. This will take different forms at different sites but amounts to an alternative on campus to off campus suspension and for a place to receive help before committing suspendable offenses. The third prong will be sustained ongoing training of our teachers in what restorative justice practices work best so that problems can be dealt with in classrooms before a referral to the office is warranted.

These efforts will also include a tightening of enforcement of campus rules involving a variety of non-classroom offenses. First, we will enforce strictly our tobacco-free campus policy. Students bringing vaping devices to campus will be enrolled in a diversion program. Repeat offenders will face progressive discipline as ending vaping on our campuses will be a high priority. We also seek, for lack of a better term, to enforce good manners. We will not abide kids’ use of profanity on campus. We will encourage appropriate vocabulary and the use of academic language. We will enforce good behavior at performances and ceremonies. We will enforce our various expectations and will endeavor to treat all kids as we would want our own to be treated, but that is going to mean enhanced disciplinary and intervention efforts I hope you will all support.

I am very proud to be your superintendent and look forward with great enthusiasm to addressing the challenges we face. I hope and trust you will support our efforts; we have really good people working very hard to make our schools even better.

Call me with questions, concerns or suggestions.

Dr. Curt Dubost
Superintendent

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About the author: News Staff

News staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote and edited this story from local contributors and press releases. Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or follow his blog. He can be reached at scott@pasoroblesdailynews.com.