by David Taub

Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson says it is untrue that he is punishing an award-winning charter school because a charter school lobbyist group opposing a school bond.

Critics, such as University High School board president Dr. Paul Beare, have been claiming that Hanson and school administrators are failing to support the charter renewal of University High School because the California Charter Schools Association’s lobbying groups have funded the No on Measure X campaign. The Fresno Unified Board of Trustees will vote on the every-five-year renewal at Wednesday’s meeting. Hanson has yet to recommend a renewal position.

“Let me be very, very clear. There is nothing about the University High charter renewal that is tied up with Jeff Sands (California Charter Schools Association representative) has been doing with a couple of our board members doing some hit pieces with mailings around our bond Measure X. Those are separate and apart, two distinct and separate issues completely,” Hanson says.

Measure X, the proposed $225 million school bond, is on Tuesday’s ballot. While there are no formal committees for or against, many groups are weighing in through independent expenditures.  One Putt Broadcasting, owned in part by John Ostlund, is spending nearly $29,000 on radio ads and signs for Measure X. The California Charter Schools Association Advocates through its issues committee plans on spending $100,000 against.

Board trustee Brooke Ashjian and conservative political advocate Tal Cloud have been guests on local radio talk shows this week, denouncing Measure X. They claim among many aspects they don’t like, is that money would be spent on salaries.

“It is an out and out lie. They know it too. It has been talked about repeatedly,” Hanson says. “I can’t assume any more, because they have been told enough. They don’t understand it. I have to assume at this point that they choose to be dishonest about it.”

Hanson has said that some bond money would be spent on project management, which he says is allowable by law.

The superintendent also responded to his critics who questioned why a formal Yes on X committee was not created as for past bonds. “We didn’t think we would need one, candidly. There is plenty of public goodwill around the schools and all that was done in Measure Q,” Hanson tells GV Wire.

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