To avoid potential Brown Act conflicts, I am sharing my thoughts as a private citizen from the perspective of a former Dual Immersion (DI) parent at both Georgia Brown Elementary and Flamson Middle School and as someone who finally sees a clear path to building the long overdue Aquatic Complex including a way to pay for its maintenance. My thoughts do not necessarily reflect that of the school board.
Paso Robles Joint Unified School District (PRJUSD) Superintendent Curt Dubost and Assistant
Superintendent Business Services Brad Pawlowski hosted a Community Meeting on November
10 to discuss School Attendance Boundaries and Possible School Closure. I applaud the
superintendents for acknowledging the status of the District’s General Fund and the potentially
overdrawn status of the Measure M funds.
Mr. Pawlowski shared that the General Fund, with
declining enrollment and a precipitous decline in ADA/Average Daily Attendance, PRJUSD could return to deficit spending if drastic cuts such as closing a campus are not made. There is about $30 million left to fund remaining Measure M projects, including Georgia Brown and the Aquatic Complex. If the projected $11 million combined cost overruns at the Temporary School Site, Marie Bauer and Glen Speck, plus an additional $6 million to build Speck’s Multi-Purpose
Room are any indication; the district will not have enough M16 money left to rebuild Georgia Brown, let alone any other projects. In hindsight, the original $13.5 million budget was never going to be enough to modernize Georgia Brown. Next year, the projected cost will be closer to $30 million.
The superintendents introduced two options to mitigate the shortfall.
Option 1: Close Georgia Brown moving the Dual Immersion program to Winfred Pifer School.
There are currently 431 students at Pifer. The 667 students currently at Georgia Brown could
stay on the west side by enrolling at Glen Speck until Speck reaches its capacity of 625 students. There are currently 434 students enrolled at Glen Speck. While Option 1 achieves the objective to close a school site, it deprives some of the district’s neediest students of a
neighborhood school that best meets their critical needs without having to travel 4.7 miles across town.
Option 2: proposes Georgia Brown trade locations with Glen Speck. Glen Speck would move
from its temporary site to Georgia Brown. Glen Speck students and teachers would be forced to
remain at the temporary site for perhaps another three years while Georgia Brown is renovated
at an allegedly reduced estimate of $12.9 million, saving $600,000. This cost reduction doesn’t seem realistic. This bait and switch is morally unconscionable. Glen Speck students, parents, and staff have put up with exile and delays far too long. They deserve to return home as soon as possible. To make matters worse, Option 2 fails to close a school site, so there isn’t any
However, there is a third option. Consolidate the two middle schools at Lewis, then let Georgia
Brown takes over the then-vacant Flamson Middle school to become a K-8 Dual Immersion
school. By reducing both short and long-term expenditures, this third option is both reasonable,
affordable and achieves several goals:
- Closes a school site saving $750,000 per year or more
- Keeps two neighborhood elementary schools open on the west side
- Allows Dual Immersion capacity to expand by half, adding 6th, 7th and 8th-grade classrooms—a true K-8 Dual Immersion magnet school allowing 8th graders superior matriculation to PRHS’s Dual Immersion instruction.
- Allows for a second magnet school, The Arts Academy at Bauer Speck, Restores the integrity of the Measure M budget allowing the Aquatic Complex to be built now in its original, two pool design.
- Pool maintenance funded with some the savings that consolidation would generate.
What needs to happen:
1. The consolidation of our middle schools
2. Allow 5th Graders (Class of 2029) to stay one extra year at their respective elementary sites, becoming 6th Graders at their current sites in 2022-23. There is capacity to do this.
3. Both Flamson and Lewis Middle Schools become 7-8 Middle schools while the district uses $3.5 million of Georgia Brown’s $13.5m Measure M Funds to build a new classroom wing at Lewis to house all 7 and 8 graders at one central location.
4. Convert the new ten classroom building at Flamson to a pre-K and Kindergarten wing using
$1 million of the $13.5m Georgia Brown’s Measure M Funds
4. Move 7&8 grades from Flamson to Lewis in 2023
5. Move Georgia Brown a ¼ mile to the now vacant Flamson campus in 2023 (saving $750,000
6. Use the remaining $9m of Georgia Brown’s Measure M funds to augment the remaining $3.6m for the Aquatic Complex. This leaves $12.6m to immediately begin construction on the Aquatic Complex.
7. Sell the now vacant GB as surplus property after first offering it as surplus property, possibly
to a potentially new charter school or, better still, build affordable housing for our struggling teachers offering homes with below-market-rate rents.
No, Option 3 does not please everyone; I do not believe such a plan exists. In the long run, Option 3, subject to discussion and revision, presents the least disruption while restoring a sense of hope and promise that PRJUSD can find its way back to being a destination district for students, teachers, classified staff parents, and our community. When a decision is made by the
school board next year, let us hope that staff will decide to present Option 3. Meanwhile, if preserving neighborhood schools is critical to student success, if enhancing Dual Immersion matters to you, if restoring an Arts Academy is important to you if attracting, paying, and retaining the best teachers is vital, and if you have waited too long for PRJUSD to fulfill its
promise of an Aquatic Complex, contact Superintendent Dubost and Assistant Superintendent Business Services Pawlowski. Ask them to present Option 3 to the public.
Chris Bausch, Paso Robles