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A Congenial Fresno Unified Debate to Replace Ashjian

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The four candidates hoping to succeed Brooke Ashjian to represent the Bullard High School region on the Fresno Unified school board debated congenially Tuesday (Sept. 26) night.

Brooke Ashjian

In the one-hour forum, no one yelled or screamed at each other. The four candidates had ample time to answer questions from moderator Bill McEwen, GV Wire’s news director.
Things were so copacetic, that afterward, candidates engaged in handshakes, hugs, and smiles after sharing views on taxes, school safety, and Measure X spending, among many topics.
Terri Edwards kibitzed with the wife and daughter of one of her opponents, Terry Slatic.
Nasreen Johnson, a publicist for Fresno EOC, and Amanda Karabian, a self-described mom, joined Edwards, an administrator with the Parents University program at Fresno Unified and Slatic, a retired Marine Corps officer and business executive.
The four are seeking to replace Ashjian, who opted not to run for re-election. He has endorsed Slatic.

Parcel Tax


“Whatever is going to create situations that will help our kids is worth it.”candidate Terri Edwards
All somewhat supported a potential parcel tax.
“If it is in fact passed, it lends some options achieving the things we all believe,” Slatic said. But, he followed that how to spend the money is a different topic.
Edwards hoped any proceeds could help reduce class size.
“Whatever is going to create situations that will help our kids is worth it,” Edwards said.
Johnson recognized the need for more funding, but wants to examine the current budget first before seeking a new tax.
Karabian agreed about reducing class size and looking at the budget first.

Measure X


Amanda Karabian would engage the voters, by meeting with them at school sites to learn what the needs are.
Johnson said she is anxious to how the district will spend  Measure X funds, the $225 million bond measure passed by Fresno Unified voters in 2016 for capital projects.
She wants to spend such funds to positively impact the kids.
Karabian would engage the voters, by meeting with them at school sites to learn what the needs are.
Slatic questioned the district philosophy on spending the money on the worst facilities first, wondering what the definition of “worst” is.
“Is worst simply age? Is worst simply that this roof has dry rot? I’m not satisfied that there are inspections going on,” Slatic said. He also called for the district to establish a building plan.
Edwards said that the district needs to distribute money in an equitable manner.
“What do students really need? Equal would be they all have the same thing. But maybe they don’t need the same thing … we have to look at equity versus equality.” she said.

School Safety


“If (a parcel tax) is in fact passed, it lends some options achieving the things we all believe.”candidate Terry Slatic.
Slatic said he was not satisfied with the safety arrangements at Fresno Unified. He said a student was expelled from Bullard High School last year for making a death threat against one of his children.
He noted that the ShotSpotter gunshot detection program is not near Bullard.
However, other candidates showed lukewarm support for expanding ShotSpotter.
Edwards felt ShotSpotter is just one of the safety measures the district should take, including active shooter training.

“(ShotSpotter) is only helpful after shots are fired.”candidate Nasreen Johnson
Johnson called for all kinds of improved safety, including on buses. She mentioned her daughter was in a school bus accident recently.
“(ShotSpotter) is only helpful after shots are fired,” she said. Johnson suggested additional security and mental health services.
Karabian wants to bring more people to the table to decide what safety upgrades might be needed.
GV Wire along with CMAC hosted the Area 7 debate, as well as debates for the three other Fresno Unified seats up for election.

David Taub has spent most of his career in journalism behind the scenes working as a TV assignment editor and radio producer. For more than a decade, he has worked in the Fresno market with such stops at KSEE-24, KMJ and Power Talk 96.7. Taub also worked the production and support side of some of TV sports biggest events including the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals and NASCAR to name a few. Taub graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email