Education

Paso schools have a budget problem, so superintendent is giving away his pay raise

Paso Robles Superintendent Chris Williams stands on the sidelines at a 2017 high school football game. Williams is donating his pay raise to the district’s nonprofit foundation amid ongoing budget problems.
Paso Robles Superintendent Chris Williams stands on the sidelines at a 2017 high school football game. Williams is donating his pay raise to the district’s nonprofit foundation amid ongoing budget problems. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

The Paso Robles school superintendent will donate his salary increase to a nonprofit amid the district’s ongoing budget issues.

Superintendent Chris Williams will donate his scheduled 1.5 percent raise — worth about $3,300 — to the Paso Robles 4A Foundation, which raises money to support the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District.

Williams will earn $214,833 this year, per his employment agreement. He also gets a 5 percent bonus for having at least 10 years of school administrator or management experience, according to the district salary schedule.

The district is negotiating a series of budget troubles related to a dramatic decline in reserves during the past three years, The Tribune reported earlier this month.

pasoschoolsign.jpg
The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District is working through a budget crisis. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

The California State Board of Education requires that 3 percent of Paso Robles’ $78.2 million budget be set aside in reserve.

But the district’s reserves dropped from 10 percent in 2015 to 0.96 percent at the end of the 2017-18 school year. That means the district now has only $754,413 saved for emergencies.

Paso Robles school officials are now working with the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education to develop a plan to correct its finances.

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Williams said he decided to donate his salary out of respect for teachers and administrators and as a “gesture that would set an example moving forward.”

He said the budget process is right on schedule, and officials in November will begin meeting with members of a budget communication committee that will update constituents on the district’s fiscal health.

The school board will receive an update on the fiscal stabilization plan on Nov. 13, and trustees will approve the plan on Dec. 11.

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseymholden
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