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Complex foci 

How would you feel if the roof over your head leaked water every time it rained? What about if you saw cockroaches scurrying across the floor?

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I'm not talking about the Grand View Apartments in Paso Robles where tenants sued the owners in 2019 over mold, cockroaches, rats, bedbugs, and generally unlivable conditions (the owners sold the complex to a pair of companies that revitalized it).

The cockroaches I'm talking about inhabit a public school in the very same city. Georgia Brown Elementary School students have suffered through leaky ceilings, cockroach sightings, and even flea bites over the last several years awaiting a long-promised new school that is finally on the horizon.

But a group of about 300 parents isn't satisfied with the super complicated "solution" the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District came up with to untangle the messy situation it finagled itself into after passing a poorly worded bond measure for elementary and junior high school upgrades and a new high school pool and making bad spending decisions.

This solution involves children attending Georgia Brown and Glen Speck Elementary School students, who are currently going to school on a temporary campus while their school undergoes a remodel. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. Glen Speck students will move back to their school site once construction is finished. Georgia Brown students will then move to the temporary site that Glen Speck students have been using. Then, once construction at Georgia Brown is finished, Glen Speck students will relocate one more time to Georgia Brown, and the Georgia Brown students will move from the temporary site to the redone Glen Speck site. And voila! Everyone is happy?

I'd say more like no one is happy.

Although Georgia Brown students were in danger of losing their school entirely last year due to the district's questionable budgeting ability, they now have two moves ahead of them before they can settle into brand new but lightly used, leak free, uninfested classrooms. And parents should be totally OK with that—according to school board member Chris Bausch.

Georgia Brown's parent coalition petitioned the school board to knock the two moves it decided on in February down to one because they believe their children have already been through enough. And Georgia Brown also has more students than Glen Speck, which is why those students will eventually end up on the larger Glen Speck campus while Glen Speck students will end up on the smaller Georgia Brown campus. What? I can't keep them straight.

"The argument that 'we have more students' is a very hollow argument to me," Bausch said during a five-hour hearing about the petition on March 22.

Well, how does this argument sound: Doesn't it just make more sense to make both sets of students, teachers, and faculty only move one more time—you know, for efficiency and financial expediency? Aren't decisions like this the reason the district's had so much financial trouble in the first place?

Meanwhile, during this super long hearing where the school board ultimately decided to do what it had already decided to do about a month ago, Paso Unified's newest school board member showed off just how special he really is. In one of the many failed motions to make different moves this time around (see what I did there), great-grandfather and ordained minister Frank Triggs, who was appointed to replace Jim Reed, seconded a motion to only have one more move per school, and then promptly voted against it.

He wouldn't have had to vote on it at all if he hadn't seconded it.

But Triggs isn't the only special official in this county.

Arroyo Grande Mayor Caren Ray Russom is "edified." She likes to use fancy words. During a March 8 discussion on choosing a City Council district map that would put more of the city's Grand Avenue commercial corridor in one district versus evenly splitting it between two, she was very concerned that one district wouldn't represent much commercial interests.

"I'm concerned there's a lack of balance in terms of the desires of each district and what their foci might be," Russom said during the meeting.

And by "foci," she means the plural of focus: focuses. So pedestrian!

What I don't understand is why a person who uses the word "foci" isn't edified enough to be up on who gets to vote in City Council elections. During the March 22 hearing to finalize a district map, she seemed very concerned about the commercial area of town not being adequately represented in City Council districts and where the taxes it generates would go, when only the residents of a city can vote in city elections, and all sales taxes, no matter the district, go to the city.

Former City Councilmember Jim Guthrie, who called in to the March 22 meeting to agree with Russom, also seemed stymied by the move to not split the commercial corridor between two districts. He seemed to think that each district would have a "commercial district representative" if they went with a district map splitting Grand Avenue between two districts. Whereas with most of Grand in one district, "we have a districts that just represents a residential district."

Umm, commercial business owners don't get to register to vote from their place of business! So every City Council district is a residential district. Get your foci straight. Δ

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