Paso Robles school district officials attempt to correct misinformation

August 10, 2023


Paso Robles Unified School District officials attempted to correct misinformation over the future of its dual immersion program and the Georgia Brown Elementary campus during a board meeting on Tuesday, before directing staff to bring back more information at the next meeting.

Less than two months after the district board voted 4-3 to renovate the Georgia Brown Elementary School on 36th Street, the state found a geological anomaly running under the campus. The state will no longer permit renovations unless further inspection shows, at a cost of more than $250,000, that the site passes requirements for public schools.

Speakers at the public meeting voiced concerns that the district was planning to close the dual language immersion program, that school staff would lose their jobs, and their students would lose friends and teachers if the 36th Street school closed.

District officials said that shuttering the dual immersion Spanish-English program has never been on the table. Georgia Brown Elementary is a magnet school focused on students speaking English and Spanish fluently by the time they graduate fifth grade.

Officials also denied that they have been secretly planning to close Georgia Brown Elementary, noting they were stunned by the state’s geological findings.

In response to allegations janitors and teaching assistant jobs were on the chopping block, officials said they are not planning to terminate anyone’s employment, regardless of the future of the 36th Street campus.

In addition, district officials noted Georgia Brown Elementary is not a neighborhood school. As a magnet school, it draws students from throughout the county, with only about 30% from the area near the school.

If the Georgia Brown campus is closed, the magnet school would be located at another campus, with many of the same students and instructors.

Regardless, it appears the future of Georgia Brown Elementary is not in the hands of district officials.

Even though the Division of the State Architect (DSA) has not condemned the 36th Street campus, it is not permitting any modernization or major repairs at the site, Superintendent Curt Dubost said. For example, the DSA denied an attempt to replace a roof.

District board trustees voiced concerns that the state appeared to be condemning the site, while claiming it was not.

“If the site is not safe, the site is not safe,” Trustee Kenney Enney said. “Either the building is structurally sound and it’s safe, or it’s not, and they need to say one way or the other. I don’t think it’s fair to tell the community you have to go back into the building.”

Trustees discussed possible ways around the state’s requirement, including selling the 36th Street property and then renting it.

Some trustees argued the campus is in poor shape with a decades-long cockroach infestation. Even though a pest control company sprays the campus once a month, they are unable to end the infestation.

In the past, it was suggested the district close the 36th Street site, and move the magnet school to Flamson Middle School.

During the past seven years, enrollment in the district has fallen by over 600 students. The suggestion was to merge the two middle schools, while moving sixth grade back to elementary schools, many of which have classrooms currently not used as classrooms.

Other trustees want to maintain the current number of schools, with a hope new construction will lead to more students enrolling in the district.

In the end, the board asked staff to bring back information in two weeks on what can and cannot be done at the 36th Street campus, options for the dual immersion program, information on demographics and a study of where parents want their children attend school.

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