30 Paso Robles teachers will retire early as district lays out $2.1 million in cuts

Dozens of Paso Robles teachers will take early retirement at the end of the school year — one of a list of cost-saving measures the district released on Monday as leaders prepare to consider millions of dollars in budget cuts.

The 19 proposed spending reductions, which Paso Robles Joint Unified School District board trustees will discuss on Tuesday, include a retirement incentive for 30 teachers and nine classified staff members.

The retirements will save the district $490,000 of the total $2,148,802.

Paso Robles is in the midst of a fiscal crisis. At the request of the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education, board trustees agreed in December to make $3 million in budget cuts over the next two years.

The first $2 million in reductions must be made during the 2019-20 school year, and the remaining $800,000 in cuts will come from the 2020-21 budget.

Representatives from Paso Robles Public Educators (PRPE), a district teachers’ union, met on Wednesday with county education officials and district administrators to discuss the cuts.

Although arrangements still need to be finalized, 30 teachers have agreed to take advantage of early retirement incentives, said Jim Lynett, executive director of PRPE.

Four of the 30 positions will likely be eliminated, and 26 new teachers will be hired, Lynett said. The cost savings will come from the cut jobs and the lower salaries the hires will earn, he said.

“Most of the list is pretty innocuous in that it doesn’t affect the classrooms,” Lynett said.

Jennifer Gaviola, deputy superintendent, said the four position cuts are related to current enrollment projections.

About half of the 30 outgoing teachers work at district elementary schools, while the other half are instructors at the middle school and high school levels, Gaviola said.

Administrative and arts reductions

The cuts will also include $470,900 in administrative reductions.

Joseph Williams, director of schools, will become the district’s director of student services, a position Kristen Shouse vacated in December, Gaviola said. Williams’ old job will be eliminated.

The district athletic director job, from which Rich Clayton resigned in December, will also be among the cuts. The deputy superintendent and high school athletic director will assume the position’s duties.

Nearly $300,000 in cuts will also come from music and dance. One open dance position will not be filled, while two others will be reassigned to different open jobs and another will teach classes to elementary students weekly.

One music teacher will also be reassigned, reducing the number of instructors from three to two.

Outgoing principals and new teacher hiring

Paso Robles High School Principal Eric Martinez announced earlier in the month he’ll be leaving his position at the end of the school year to move closer to family.

Georgia Brown Elementary School Principal Michele Tesauro will also retire this year, along with Dorothy Halic, principal of the Arts Academy at Bauer Speck, Gaviola said.

New teacher hiring will begin toward the middle of March, she said. Last year, many of the district’s hires were Cal Poly graduates, Gaviola said.

District administrators worked hard with the teachers’ union to find the best ways to address the budget, she said.

“It’s really just looking at every budget line and intimately knowing the budget,” Gaviola 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.