Outgoing Paso schools superintendent to receive $113,000 payout

Paso Robles’ outgoing school superintendent will receive a payout of $113,409 after resigning from a district that’s facing $3 million in budget cuts, according to his settlement agreement.

The Tribune obtained Superintendent Chris Williams’ resignation and settlement agreements via a California Public Records Act request.

Williams resigned from the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District on Dec. 6. He will receive the money — equal to six months’ pay — as a lump-sum payment, according to the agreement.

The settlement, approved by the school board at a special meeting on Thursday, was amended from a previous Dec. 6 settlement.

Williams was to receive $226,818 under the earlier version of the agreement.

But he came back to the negotiating table on Thursday and hammered out an amended agreement with board members in a three-hour closed session meeting, said board President Joel Peterson.

Superintendent Jim Brescia of the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education and the fiscal adviser helping the district asked Williams to revisit the previous settlement in light of the district’s ongoing financial struggles, Peterson said.

The district must cut $3 million from its budget during the next two years to avert a funding deficit during the 2020-21 fiscal year.

“We would like to thank the board and Mr. Williams for reaching a revised agreement at a reduced amount that allows the district to move forward, and conforms to the district’s fiscal stabilization plan,” Peterson said in an emailed statement.

The agreement will take effect on Friday, Williams’ last day as superintendent.

Interim superintendent hired

On Thursday, the board also officially hired Julian Crocker, former county superintendent of schools, as the district’s interim superintendent.

The county Office of Education will foot the bill for Crocker’s salary, Peterson said. As a retired public employee, Crocker’s yearly earnings are capped at about $45,000, said Sheldon Smith, assistant superintendent of business services for the county.

Crocker will report to the county Office of Education, which will keep track of his hours and pay him accordingly, Smith said.

Because the district had already planned to pay Williams’ salary for the next six months, the new agreement keeps the budget neutral, Peterson said.

“It just puts us in a good spot to move forward starting Jan. 1,” Peterson said.

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Lindsey Holden writes about housing, North County communities and everything in between for The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. She became a staff writer in 2016 after working for the Rockford Register Star in Illinois. Lindsey is a native Californian raised in the Midwest and earned degrees from DePaul and Northwestern universities.