WELCOME BACK TO SCHOOL 2023-24
Welcome to the new school year. One of the best aspects of school work is that, somewhat like sports, we annually get to start a new year with lessons learned from the past but a relatively clean slate from which to build. I’ve just concluded two full days of training with our District Management Team, and I can proudly report there is more positive energy and enthusiasm for the coming year than in any of my first four. For starters, we don't start the year under the cloud of any Grand Jury investigations, COVID scares, labor disputes, or other crises. While we face many challenges, it finally feels like we can get back to a focus on classroom instruction and really attack the academic issues in our schools. I do believe our most recently adopted LCAP (Local Control Accountability Plan), which we finally have adequate funds to implement fully, will really bear fruit this year. That will be especially true if we can fill more Paraeducator and bus driver positions. Please encourage any applicants to consider helping us.
Adding to our confidence is that, while it took a while, we finally filled all our key administrative vacancies with highly qualified newcomers. Chief among them is new Paso Robles High School Principal Megan Fletcher. Megan has a wealth of experience as a school administrator and high school principal in Massachusetts. She has two earned master's degrees, a proven track record, and stellar recommendations. Most importantly, she thoroughly impressed the interview panel and all of us who met her at the district office and the site. Although relatively new to North County, she and her husband, James Fletcher, live in San Miguel. He is a retired veteran and law enforcement officer with lots of local connections. We look forward to Megan working with Anthony Overton, now Director of Curriculum for Secondary Education, and the PRHS staff, students, and community to continue the many successes at the high school while addressing with a fresh perspective some of the issues we still face. Especially of concern are continuing failing grades, poor attendance, apathy, and lack of effort from a small but significant portion of the student body.
At the two middle schools, we have a couple of new faces. At Lewis, former Speck Guidance Specialist Lisa Shipman has assumed the principalship. Although Glen Speck was her most recent position, Lisa came to us a year ago with a wealth of experience as both an elementary principal and a middle school assistant principal. Lisa is truly an exceptional person and a remarkable school leader. I would gladly have any of my nine grandchildren attend any school led by Lisa.
At Flamson, we, unfortunately, lost one of our superstars, assistant principal Jennifer Isbell. I’ve known Jen since she was a student of mine at Templeton High, and she is as fine a school leader as I’ve ever met. As a result, she was successfully lured back to Atascadero as an elementary principal, where she previously served for many years. In her place, however, we recruited Templeton resident Cesar Rossel from San Luis Coastal, where he was highly regarded. Cesar has an infectious personality combined with the highest of recommendations, and I look forward to him being a key addition to the Flamson staff and a very positive male role model for our kids.
Pat Butler and Kermit King also have a new face around their campus. Both campuses will share Student Engagement Specialist (SES) Kristin Dentone. Kristine relocated from the Bay Area and is thrilled to join us. She has been in education for 21 years as a teacher, TOSA, instructional coach, vice principal, and principal in elementary and secondary settings. Regardless of the role, Kristin is most passionate about connecting with students and the community to support others in whatever their needs may be. Kristin graduated from UCLA with a focus on sociology and communications and received her Masters in Educational Leadership.
Expect to see some changes in the new year related to the acceptable use of personal devices on campuses, with new restrictions on use in classrooms, some dress code modifications, and some new discipline rules. Bullying and other unkind behavior will be a primary target of our efforts to maintain safe and orderly campuses. We also will be implementing a variety of new positive incentives as well as new interventions for students struggling academically, socially, or otherwise--more to come on all of these topics.
This will be the last of my almost fifty years of work as a public school employee, and I am proud to lead the district as we come out of the recent turbulent times. In addition to our specific goals related to Literacy and other academics, my preeminent wish is to set my successor up for great success in the future. I want to turn over the reins without a list of objectives unmet and problems unsolved and instead with momentum on which to build. I truly believe all of the components are in place for Paso Schools to really excel in the coming year and into the future. I hope and trust you will join me in that optimism and work with us to that end.
Curt Dubost, Ed.D.