Education

Templeton, Shandon school districts must cut thousands from their budgets

County schools superintendent begins Paso Robles board meeting with a Dr. Suess quote

SLO County Office of Education Superintendent James Brescia leads the Paso Robles Joint Unified School Board in its first meeting as new members are sworn after the former superintendent resigned.
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SLO County Office of Education Superintendent James Brescia leads the Paso Robles Joint Unified School Board in its first meeting as new members are sworn after the former superintendent resigned.

Two North County school districts must make budget cuts to address funding shortfalls caused by declining enrollment and increased retirement costs.

Templeton Unified School District and Shandon Joint Unified School District must make hundreds of thousands of dollars in reductions to ensure they’ll be able to pay their bills while maintaining healthy reserves for economic uncertainty.

The California Department of Education requires districts to have varying reserve levels based on size. Templeton must maintain a 3 percent reserve, while Shandon needs a 5 percent reserve.

In December, board members in both districts approved fiscal solvency resolutions committing to spending cuts at the request of the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education.

Templeton officials will need to identify $300,000 in reductions from the district’s $22 million budget each year for the next two years. Shandon officials must cut $287,000 in expenses from the district’s $5 million budget in 2020-21.

Paso Robles Joint Unified School District board members also approved a fiscal solvency resolution in December. District officials must make $3 million in reductions from a $78 million budget during the next two years.

Shandon and Templeton superintendents both attributed their shortfalls to enrollment declines and increased pension spending.

“I think the population that can afford to live on the Central Coast is older,” said Kristina Benson, Shandon superintendent.

District officials are in the process of identifying reductions.

Templeton Superintendent Joe Koski said his district plans to leverage positions that become vacant, reduce hours for some employees and spread out cuts across the district, instead of devastating one funding area.

Koski said he’s optimistic layoffs won’t be necessary.

“Our hope is to do one more round of belt-tightening,” he said.

Both superintendents said they want to try their best to keep budget cuts away from teachers and students.

“Like all schools, we’re going to try our very best not to negatively impact the classrooms,” Benson said.

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Lindsey Holden writes about housing, immigration and everything in between for The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. She also covers northern San Luis Obispo County city governments and school districts. Lindsey joined The Tribune in 2016 after working for the Rockford Register Star in Illinois. She’s a native Californian raised in the Midwest and is a proud graduate of two Chicago schools: DePaul University and Northwestern University.


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