Paso Robles Unified School District facing $3 million shortfall

December 11, 2018

Chris Williams

Paso Robles Unified School District Superintendent Chris Williams, who abruptly announced his resignation last week, is leaving the North County school district with depleted reserves and an approximately $3 million shortfall over the next couple years. [Tribune]

Williams announced his resignation at a school board meeting last week, as did the district’s athletic director and director of human services. Williams did not disclose why he was resigning, but he had clashed with at least one board member, as well as some individuals in the North County community. Also, Williams reportedly does not share the ideological bent of a group of incoming school board members.

With the district in a troubled financial state and Williams on his way out, the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education is stepping in to try to steer the school district back toward fiscal solvency. An interim financial report for the 2018-2019 school year, jointly prepared by the district and the County Office of Education, states the district must make $2.1 million in cuts to its budget for the next fiscal year.

An additional $800,000 in cuts will be needed for the 2020-2021 budget. The cuts could result in teacher layoffs.

In addition to ending with a budget shortfall, Williams’ tenure as superintendent is drawing to a close with the school district’s reserve for economic downturns almost completely depleted. Since 2015, the reserve fund has decreased from 10 percent of the size of the general fund to 1.73 percent, according to the interim financial report. Williams took over as superintendent in 2014.

The district is on track to have a -.78 percent reserve by 2020-2021. State rules require districts of Paso Robles’ size to maintain a 3 percent reserve.

On Tuesday, three newly elected trustees, Lance Gannon, Christopher Arend and Stephanie Ulibarri, will be sworn in at a school board meeting. County Superintendent of Schools James Bresica will act as temporary chairperson of the meeting, replacing Williams, even though the Paso Robles superintendent still has nearly two months remaining before his resignation takes effect.

During the school board meeting, the trustees are expected to begin the process of appointing an interim superintendent. Likewise, the board will be asked to adopt a resolution on fiscal solvency that was drafted at the request of the county and discusses budget cuts that will be needed, starting in the 2019-2020 school year.

Next spring the district is slated to begin negotiating new contracts for teachers. The process is expected to be challenging.

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And Williams is getting a $250,000 ‘reward’ for his stupendous management skills. Not bad!

Sounds a little like the Chitty Chitty Bang-Bang fiasco with our Police Chief of a few years ago.

It truly is a Wonderful Life!!

Obviously the school is underfunded and the taxpayers are under taxed…

and of course the administrators are all underpaid, so lets scare everyone that to balance the budget we must cut teachers and staff. We certainly can not eliminate administrators or cut their salaries, that would be crazy talk.

Bad news for Paso. Newcomer trustee Chris Arend is an arrogant right wing ideologue, I can’t see how he would add value to the district.

That is such a simple question to ask. The answer is that he is not a rubber stamp and has knowledge to be sitting in that position. Finally somebody in the District, or for that maybe many, are going to have to be accountable for their non discipline spending habits. I for one will be enjoying the next few months and you should too.

Lucky for the admin that incompetence is not against the law; it’s actually encouraged for academic administrators.

Well the school district won this one. Always a toss up who can do the best job at squandering the taxpayers money. Hiring the best and brightest for the most just doesn’t seem to be working out much anymore. Maybe the school district should wake up and put someone in charge of the money who actually knows how to manages money and then have someone who can concentrate on teaching the kids.

Join the discussion…Now why in God’s Green earth would they do that?? The school district is in a tight race with the city as to who can spend the taxpayers money the fastest with the least return to the taxpayers. If they should do something real crazy and start to manage their spending, they would lose that race and lose all of the kudos that go with it – won’t happen.