The Fresno Unified school board meets Wednesday (Oct. 25) and will be asked to vote to give Superintendent Bob Nelson emergency powers in case the threatened teachers’ strike happens.

Some of these powers are either known or obvious. The superintendent will have authority to hire substitutes at $500 a day and protect the safety of students and staff as well as school property.

Some other interesting parts of the resolution (quoted verbatim):

  • “The Superintendent is hereby authorized to retain whatever additional security, transportation, food, telephone, or other services which are necessary for the duration of the emergency. Such additional services may include the employment of individuals and the contracting with independent contractors which provide such services.”
  • “Students shall not be directly involved in the negotiations process during instructional time in the classroom. No employee or visitor at any school site shall discuss the progress of negotiations nor the merits or lack thereof of any issue in negotiations with students during their instructional periods.”
  • “In view of the emergency situation, however, the Superintendent has the authority to close a school or schools, modify school schedules, cancel or modify specific educational programs or courses, and cancel or postpone any extracurricular activities.”

New Selection Process for Board President?

The board will update a series of bylaws (first noticed by the Fresno Bee’s Mackenzie Mays) regarding its role and powers. Some of the changes involve cleaning up extraneous language. The most significant change perhaps is the method to choose a new board president. Currently, the board votes amongst its members at the December meeting for the one-year term.

Under the new proposal, the position will be rotated (similar to Fresno City Council), with some restrictions. A member has to have served at least one year before becoming president. It would start with Trustee Area 7, represented by current board president Brooke Ashjian. The rotation would then go in descending order.

The changes were written by the board’s by-law subcommittee, consisting of Ashjian, and fellow trustees Carol Mills and Cal Johnson, with help from the district’s legal department. District staff tells GV Wire that Johnson was not present at the Sept. 22 subcommittee meeting. Johnson has indicated to this publication in the past that he does not support Ashjian as president.

According to Mills, if the proposal passes, because the Area 7 and Area 6 trustees already occupy the president/clerk positions respectively, Claudia Cazares would rotate in as president for 2018. Mills would become clerk (and president in 2019).

Other FUSD items

  • The Board will hear a plan to build a new elementary school in the Sunnyside High School area. Funds come from Measure X, a bond approved by voters in 2016.
  • A discussion about including the Armenian genocide in the curriculum was delayed. The presenter, Roxanne Makasdijian, from UC Berkeley, had a scheduling conflict.

Clovis Unified dignity

Over at the Clovis Unified meeting Wednesday, the board will vote to affirm the principles and values of the district that “students are treated with dignity and respect.” This comes on the heels of reports of the inappropriate behavior of students off school time when it comes to race and social media.


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