By JOSH FRIEDMAN
The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District explained its recent fiscal woes, which it largely attributes to prior mismanagement, and possibly corruption, in a memo it recently released.
In response to questions and concerns raised by the public,the memo says it has yet to be determined whether district funds or assets were stolen or misappropriated, according to the memo authored by new Superintendent Curt Dubost, school board president Joel Peterson and board member Chris Arend. The memo refutes allegations of nepotism.
Accounting errors largely explain the district’s reserves shrinking by a few million dollars or more over the past several years. Errors that could have been avoided if adequate protocols had been in place, according to the memo.
The memo also attributes shrinking reserves and district fiscal woes to rising salary and pension costs and the hiring of additional district administrators.
Other issues addressed in the memo include the district’s planned aquatics center and its $113,000 settlement agreement with former superintendent Chris Williams, who headed the agency as its reserves depleted. The memo defends the severance pay as a prudent legal move.
Despite a voter-approved bond measure that partially funds the planned facility, the district still lacks the funds to build the aquatics center that many students and parents want.