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Paradise Unified moves forward with staff layoffs, new construction

Paradise Unified School District Superintendent Tom Taylor says there were about 18 layoffs approved at Tuesday's school board meeting. He also provided details about the construction at the old Ponderosa Elementary campus.

Posted: Jan 21, 2021 5:22 PM
Updated: Jan 21, 2021 5:52 PM

PARADISE, Calif. - More than a dozen Paradise Unified School teachers will soon be out of a job.

Superintendent Tom Taylor says there were about 18 layoffs approved at Tuesday's school board meeting.

The board laid off four teachers it hired during the pandemic and knew the job would be temporary, 4 others were planning to retire or resign.

Action News Now asked Superintendent Tom Taylor what factors determine who will be laid off.

"A big factor is seniority and you have to look at what programs are being offered, for example at the high school, it's more based on the seniority in the program or class that you teach, so it's really driven by student need," he said.

Taylor tells Action News Now they knew they were going to have to cut staff by half after the Camp Fire forced so many to leave Paradise, but they decided to do it gradually.

He adds that the number of layoffs is based on student enrollment, so if they see an increase in enrollment,  this could mean fewer layoffs in the future. 

Taylor says there are staff members who are expected to retire next year which will also reduce the number of potential layoffs.

He also provided details on the new construction taking place at the old Ponderosa Elementary School in Paradise.

Right now crews are on site, working on Phase 1 of the project which is building a new multi-purpose room.

"Being apart of this and seeing this happen is incredible for our kids and our community. This will be Paradise Ridge Elementary school, which is the school that we currently have on Recreation Drive which was the old intermediate school," he said.

Jason Vizenor, who is a contractor with United Building says, "We're moving faster than normal, as far as industry standards go we are moving quick and it's nice to be part of rebuilding Paradise. Especially with everything that has happened here."

Phase 2 of the project will be modernizing all of the classrooms on the campus.

Taylor says that will begin in a couple of weeks. "We are going to be a new community. Over the next ten years we want to modernize all of the schools in the district. Our kids deserve it," he said.

The construction on the campus is expected to be complete in August.

It began just a few weeks ago on January 4th.

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