Paso Robles school board’s cautionary tale

June 7, 2023


On June 13 at 6 p.m., the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District Board will consider its options on how to proceed in light of recent developments discovered during the geologic hazard report for the 36th Street campus.

Board members will decide whether further expenditures beyond the $124,575 already spent will be warranted to investigate the potential fault discovered by high-resolution shear-wave reflection testing. The cost of further investigation has yet to be determined but is expected to be substantial due to the proposed 30 plus foot deep trench required to
expose the anomaly.

This expenditure would be in addition to the $18.5 million retrofit costs for the campus. It should be noted that the district’s own 7-11 Surplus Property Advisory Committee report from Jan. 26, 2021 recommended, with district staff’s concurrence, the 36th Street campus be closed and surplussed.

Furthermore, the district’s Measure M cash flow spending plan for fiscal year 2021, as reported to the board, reflected a $9,632,962 shortfall. The board inexplicably elected to ignore the committee, the staff, and public outcry and proceeded forward with the 36th Street
campus retrofit.

Compounding the problem, the staff was instructed to relocate two
elementary schools twice costing in excess of $125,000. This move extended the need for a temporary campus, at a cost in excess of $30,000 a month, which has been vacant since Dec. 2022, and is planned to remain unoccupied for all of the next school year.

All of this on top of the fiscal malfeasance that led to the early departure of the superintendent, and a grand jury investigation labeling the district a “cautionary tale.”

Due to spiraling costs and questionable viability of the site, staff have recommended all options be considered with regard to the 36th Street campus. These options include grade span reconfiguration, K-8 dual immersion, and school boundary reconfiguration.

Many parents and staff are expected to attend the June 13 meeting to express their concerns about the district’s past and present actions.

Jim Pahler is the father to two students enrolled in the Paso Robles school district.

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Please, everybody, never forget who was the Paso Robles school board president during this disastrous period of management failure: Chris Arend. I believe an investigation is warranted, so as not to repeat such a catastrophic mess and hold those responsible to accountability.