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Teacher Retirements
June 3, 2024

The growing future of PRHS


Plans to expand Paso and the school district take shape

Our town of Paso Robles is growing; with over 4.3 million square feet of new industrial development and over 5000 homes planned to be built, the size of PRHS is sure to expand.

Last year, PRHS was the fastest growing high school in the county, as reported in our October 2017 issue story, and it continues to grow, with 2181 students enrolled this year.

“I think it’s highly positive when you have a growing and diverse student body and student population. I think it adds value to each of our kids and most of our students” said superintendent Chris Williams.

Campus class sizes have a hard cap with 35 students with lab classes at 30 on average, according to principal Eric Martinez. The biggest class size is a PE1 class with 47 students. This hardcap is above the national average of 23.1 students with one teacher.

With a growth in population there comes an opportunity for more classes. “We do have more opportunities than schools with smaller populations. The best example of this is between Templeton High School and Paso; we see more CTE  and AP classes here due to the amount of students willing to take them” said Field Gibson, a PRHS board of Trustees member, said .

“You also have to consider all of your specialized classes, and different courses that have 15 to 17 or 20 [like] some of your AP classes.  A hard cap and an average is very different, the average is not 35 — it would be much lower than that. But I believe 35 is a great number” said Williams.

“There’s been a huge increase in population since I’ve been here, but I can’t say there’s been a huge increase in programs; in English we’ve actually had an decrease in options, especially for seniors. I’d love to see a broadened choice for seniors who don’t want to take AP, especially in my subject area,” said English Department head Carrie Baldovin.

“When you have a need for [more class options], we want to be able to assess and evaluate those. And you have to consider classes that actually fit into the [needs of students] and looking at the pathways that kids can go and are interested in,” said Williams.

The district and school board have a plan to help buffer a potential increase in students. Due to the growth of certain elementary schools such as Bauer Speck, which is close to capacity, the district has a tentative construction plan for a new elementary school in the next eight to ten years, which would cost about $45 million. This money would come from not only current residents but from a spiked development fee charged to developers of both commercial and residential properties to pay for the impact this development would have on the school district. The details of these fees will be finalized after a study by the city and the district.

“There’s new developments that are supposed to come about in the next 20 years, and with that being said, we’ve been meeting weekly with the city and some of the developers to get plans and to look,” Williams said. The developments include properties along the North and East sides of Paso Robles with specific plans.

These specific plans are proposed by a private sector, then led to a city process. This city process includes public input, environmental reviews, and mitigated aspects such as road improvements. The home total of the seven specific plans is 4,372 units collectively.

(Slide to see planned new housing)

The two potential sites for the proposed elementary school are Olsen Ranch and Chandler. Olsen Ranch is located off of Linne Rd and the Chandler property is off Sherwood Rd. on the east side of Paso Robles.

The school district is expecting this new elementary school in the next 6-10 years with a second one, potentially, in 10. But the high school is unlikely to gain any new add-ons or another location in the foreseeable future.

“Even with a 50% spike in enrollment, we would not be to capacity on the high school campus,” said Gibson. But a 50% spike could result in new editions like the second story of the english building.

The city of Paso Robles has a 0.7% growth rate at the moment. But the city is planning strong economic growth by planning hotels, working on the downtown and increasing wineries and breweries. This growth provide more jobs, leading to need of increased housing.

According to the “Paso Talks” on growth and traffic on Sept. 5, the city has over 5,000 houses planned and over 4,300,000 square feet of commercial and industrial development.

The city is planning a new road development called the Niblick Road Corridor Plan. The plan will become more concrete in the beginning of 2019. As of now, this project is under review.

“After we get permission from Caltrans, the next step is to hire a traffic engineer to run a RFP process (a document that solicits proposal). I anticipate that to happen around late winter or early spring next year. The entire process will take 8 months to a year to build and plan,” City Engineer Dave Athey said.

 Paso Robles grows to an estimated 44,000 people at the planned “2045 build-out,” which is the forecasted city growth.  But the population increase of PRHS is still to be decided. This leaves many questions in the air about what is to come of Paso High.

“I think there’s so much pride and tradition in being a Bearcat. We want to be able to honor and recognize the rich tradition of past, current and future bearcats and we always want to build upon that” said Williams.

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