July 1, 2008

Nelson Moves Up To Paso Principal: Successor To Ed Railsbackhis Plans Include Maintaining Vocational And Artistic Opportunities For Students In The Face Of Budget Cuts

By Leah Etling, The Tribune, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Jun. 30--Randy Nelson has been named principal of Paso Robles High School.

Nelson will replace Ed Railsback, who retired after 39 years as a social studies teacher, football coach and district administrator. Railsback had been principal of the high school for three years.

Nelson, 50, has been with the district for 11 years and has served as assistant principal at the high school for the past three years. He began his career with the district after returning to college to receive a political science degree and teaching credential from Cal Poly in the late 1980s.

Previously, he was a teacher at the high school, in the district's independent study program, and at Phillips Freedom Community Day School.

"I'm humbled by the opportunity to be the principal of Paso Robles High School. It's an amazing high school," he said.

As an assistant principal, Nelson was responsible for the school's testing administration and master schedule, and he oversaw four departments and two intervention programs for English language learners.

His plans for the campus include maintaining vocational and artistic opportunities for students, even as state budget cuts to education make doing so difficult. Programs like SkillsUSA and the visual and dramatic arts are important keys to student success, he said.

"We have had a number of teachers decide to retire this year, and the size of our faculty has shrunk in numbers. We're going to have to be creative if we are going to continue to be the comprehensive high school that we've always been for our community ..." Nelson said.

He wants to continue to improve the school's test scores and work toward more students passing the high school exit exam on the first try, he said.

Paso Robles High, which has more than 2,000 students, has an 80 percent first-time pass rate on the exit exam and an Academic Performance Index score of 744. The highest possible is 800.

Nelson is also working on a master's degree from Walden University.

Nelson and his wife, Antoinette, have three children. He begins his job Aug. 4.


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