Laid-off Paso school employees could return to work

While the Paso Robles Unified School District officially cut its budget by 20 percent this week, as many as 31 laid-off employees could be recalled before the next school year.

But the recalled staffers don’t reflect any unexpected good news about the budget.

District superintendent Kathy McNamara said those numbers merely match the number of retiring employees. And even then, not all of those positions will be filled due to shifting responsibilities designed to cut expenses.

As the budget deadline loomed, the district had to $7.4 million from its budget, meaning staff, transportation and stipends would be slashed. Even then, the district had to borrow $132,000 from its reserve to balance the final portion of the budget. That loan decreased the district‚s reserve from 3 percent to 2.6 percent.

The district is required to keep a minimum 3 percent reserve, but the state is allowing less for next year only.

In March 72 certified staffers, which includes teachers, received layoff notices. The same number of classified staff found pink slips in the mail. Because of the retirements, up to 28 certified staffers and three classified staffers could be rehired.

Still, there will be fewer employees, meaning class sizes will be larger and extracurricular activities will be fewer.

“I’m still very saddened because of the predicament we are in,” McNamara said. “The layoffs were particularly painful. But we’ll open the doors again in the fall.”