One thing appears certain in Fresno Unified’s near future: Every school will have air conditioning.
The topic dominated the district’s special school board meeting Wednesday, which focused exclusively on setting priority projects for Measure X construction funds.
Fresno Unified voters passed Measure X — a $225 million bond measure to improve facilities within the district — in 2016.
So far, the district has expended or committed $48 million to projects, which leaves it with $177 million in the pipeline.
Some of the recent projects the district has completed include modernizing Rata High School, a special education site, and improving a quad at McLane High School.
“To go through another bond and not achieve equity is not acceptable.” — Carol Mills, FUSD Board Clerk
Instead of discussing what new schools the district will build with Measure X dollars, the board focused heavily on updating existing schools.
The theme of the evening: equity for everyone.
Equity For All
That means ensuring all schools are equipped with basic needs like air conditioning.
“When we have 100-degree temperatures, it is not fair that some students have air conditioning and some don’t,” said Board Clerk Carol Mills.
Mills said the first priority for her is “equity for our regions.”
“To go through another bond and not achieve equity is not acceptable,” she said.
Trustee Terry Slatic suggested that Superintendent Bob Nelson and his staff turn off their air conditioners when summer hits until every classroom in the district has functioning air conditioning.
“Not having air conditioning in classrooms is unacceptable,” Slatic said. “You want to talk about I feel your pain, feel their pain, and turn off your own air conditioning, Mr. Superintendent, and your senior staff’s.”
Slatic vowed to turn off his own air conditioner in his home until the issue is resolved.
“Not having air conditioning in classrooms is unacceptable.” — Terry Slatic, Area 7 trustee
Resident Andrew Fabela said he wants to see air conditioning installed at every school before the board starts any other projects.
“You can’t learn in disgusting conditions,” Fabela said. “So the first thing should be making sure every classroom that has a defective air conditioner has one replaced. That is the first thing that I want to see.”
Fabela said the air conditioning issue is not new. He recalled two instances where students had to suffer the consequences of not having a climate-controlled classroom.
Second Workshop In February
The board agreed to hold another workshop in February to give staff time to gather additional data for potential Measure X priority projects.
Other possible priority projects include:
— Installing door alarms in special education classrooms district-wide.
— Creating or upgrading Career Technical Education programs at each comprehensive high school.
— Adding or upgrading gyms at Edison, Fresno and Roosevelt high schools.
— Adding more elementary schools in the Edison and McLane regions because of overcrowding.
— Veva Islas (@VoteVeva) January 8, 2019