The front page of a Fresno Unified fact-finding report bluntly lays out its recommendation: “Deny the Kepler Neighborhood School Charter Renewal Petition request. The charter school has not met the standards and criteria set forth in Education Code.”

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David Taub

Fresno Unified trustees agreed with that finding Wednesday night, voting 5-2 not to renew the charter of the downtown school.

However, Kepler can appeal the decision to the Fresno County Board of Education. Trustees there might be convinced to allow the school to continue based on data presented by the school Wednesday night. For example, Kepler’s middle-school students outperform those at surrounding Fresno Unified campuses.

Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young, a mother of three Kepler students, told The Fresno Bee last year that she chose the school for its focus on service learning, and that she’s hopeful the school will not close.

Costa, Denham and McClintock Team Up on Water Bill

Congressmen Jim Costa (D-Fresno), Denham, John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove), and Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) introduced H.R 5726, the Non-Federal Reservoir Operations Improvement Act, Wednesday in the House of Representatives. If enacted, the bipartisan legislation would resolve a technicality that impedes structural and operational improvements of water reservoirs and prevents reservoirs from functioning as efficiently as possible.

“This bill is a straightforward solution to a senseless problem that blocks improved water supply in the San Joaquin Valley, and in communities across the United States,” said Costa, the bill’s lead sponsor.

Said McClintock, who represents the Valley’s foothill areas: “Droughts are nature’s fault. Water shortages are our fault. This bill is an important step in reforming the bureaucratic mess that has made it all but impossible to manage our crucial water supplies.”

Denham is the lead Republican on the bill.

“In the Valley, we’ve seen water tables dry up, community water systems completely empty, and the economic viability of some towns completely dried up as well,” Denham said. “We must move this issue forward.”

Costa’s office noted the bill’s inclusion as a provision in the Senate’s America’s Water Infrastructure Act, thus signaling Senate support. That legislation, which aims to localize the budget for the Army Corps of Engineers, was introduced Tuesday.

Measure X News

Fresno Unified is filling its bond oversight committee. Tonight (May 9), the board will vote on the appointments of Brian Andritch and Arthur Koster. They are the choices of trustees Carol Mills and Elizabeth Jonasson Rosas, respectively.

The committee oversees bond money approved by voters, including Measure Q and Measure X.

District staff describe Andritch as “Leadership Fresno alum, has been involved in a community group supporting Hamilton K-8, and participates in extracurricular activities with his children who attend school in the district.”

The bio for Koster reads “Mr. Koster is a local business owner and involved in activities such as Tree Fresno, and co-founded the high-speed rail club “I Will Ride” at Fresno City College.”

The committee membership will increase to nine if the board approves both men. That still leaves six vacancies. The next committee’s next meeting is May 17. The board has had its share of attendance problems over the last few years.

Fresno Unified continues the process of selling Measure X bonds. The school board already set a wish list of where the funds will go. Now, at its meeting tonight, they start the process of selecting a bond underwriter. Staff recommended six finalists for the board to choose.

City to Buy Fire HQ

After leasing the Fire Department headquarters for the 11 years, the Fresno City Council will vote Thursday (May 10) to buy it outright. The transaction is $4.4 million for the building at 911 H Street from sellers EIE Alpha, LLC, Legacy DG Properties LLC, and the Jason and Kymberly Geil Family Trust.

Steve Geil, a longtime Fresno entrepreneur, is behind EIE Alpha. Frank Easterly is the managing member of Legacy DG Properties.

The council already approved a $1.3 million down payment. The remaining $3.1 million will be borrowed from the city’s Wastewater Operating Fund and the Sewer Rate Stabilization Fund.

The current lease rate is $50,140 per month ($601,680 a year).

Other Fresno Council Happenings

Also on the agenda: reimburse the Fresno County Transportation Authority $250,000 for purchasing land to be used for the High-Speed Rail maintenance facility in Fresno. …use $50,000 in the City Attorney’s Office from the contingency account to hire a budget analyst. …Hear citizens Gidai Maaza and Cesar CasaMayor talk about cannabis. The Fresno Bee reported that CasaMayor was arrested last year for protesting Mayor Lee Brand’s refusal to declare Fresno a sanctuary city. Prosecutors eventually dropped the charges.

RV Parking OK in Clovis

The Clovis City Council said it’s OK to park an RV or boat in a residential driveway. With a 5-0 vote, the council accepted a police department request to relax enforcement of such vehicles not being allowed to park on driveways. The pilot program runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day and could be extended if it goes well.

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