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Tax + Gas Dollars = Program Boosts at Reedley College, Fresno State

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Reedley College recently celebrated getting $1 million in state funds in the college's airplane hangar. (Twitter/Reedley College)
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Reedley College got a big boost in September when Assembly Member Dr. Joaquin Arambula presented a $1 million check for the college’s Aviation Maintenance Technology and Flight Science programs.

The funds, contained in the taxpayer-supported state budget, will help expand job training and opportunities in the region.

Check out my other School Zone columns at Nancy Price’s School Zone Facebook page.

But specifically, it will improve the quality of training programs for student pilots and aircraft mechanics, and also reduce costs. With the funding the college can buy planes instead of leasing them, instructor John Johnson said: “This cost reduction is the most effective method of increasing access to professional pilot career training for underrepresented and economically challenged residents of the central San Joaquin Valley.”

Reedley’s not the only beneficiary of much-welcome largesse that was announced this month. Chevron donated $350,000 to Fresno State, raising the corporation’s total donations to the university over the past five years in excess of $2 million.

The latest donation will help support the Fresno State Mobile Health Unit in the College of Health and Human Services, the Veterans Education Program offered through the Division of Continuing and Global Education, and lab renovations and Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CURES) in the College of Science and Mathematics.

The Mobile Health Unit carries nursing students into rural areas to deliver health care services and has been particularly invaluable during the pandemic, when students administered more than 8,000 COVID-19 vaccinations to farmworkers and other community members.


Also in School Zone: 

  • The Fresno High trustee race gains another candidate.
  • Eighth grade is not too soon to be thinking about a medical career.

He Wants to ‘Reimagine’ Schools

Another hat has been tossed into the ring for the Fresno Unified School Board Area 5 seat, which represents the Fresno High area.

Andy Levine announced Thursday morning on Twitter that he’s running for the seat formerly held by Carol Mills, who died July 20 after battling Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

The winner of the April 12 special election will complete the remainder of Mills’ term through November 2024.

Levine, 37, is a senior adviser for the nonprofit community organization Faith in the Valley, a part-time faculty member in Fresno State’s Sociology Department, and will soon be the co-director of the Center for Community Voices, a new project being launched out of the College of Social Sciences.

The Edison High graduate says he’s running for the School Board now so he can play a role in determining how the hundreds of millions in state and federal dollars coming to the district can be spent to “reimagine our schools as places where every child, teacher, family, and community member is served.” He grew up in the Fresno High area and returned to live there about seven years ago.

Levine is the second candidate for the seat. Retired Fresno Unified school teacher Russell C. “Russ” Allen, 63, filed his campaign committee paperwork about a month ago.

The official filing period will open on Dec. 20 and close Jan. 14.

Former City Councilman Blong Xiong also has declared his candidacy for the Area 5 seat — but for the November 2024 election. Xiong could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Other candidates who have filed campaign committee notices are longtime Fresno Unified school psychologist Susan Wittrup, who is challenging incumbent Terry Slatic for the Bullard High Area 7 seat, and incumbents Valerie Davis (Sunnyside High Area 3) and Veva Islas (McLane High Area 4).

Doctors Academy Seeks Prospects

Eighth-grade students who are thinking about a career in health care should tune in to upcoming in-person and virtual meetings held by the UCSF Fresno Latino Center for Medical Education and Research (UCSF Fresno Latino Center) for the Doctors Academies offered in the Fresno and Caruthers Unified School Districts.

The center is accepting student applications through Dec. 1. To find out more, students and their parents can attend the following meetings:

  • Caruthers Unified: Oct. 4, 6-7 p.m., Caruthers High School Media Center, 2580 W. Tahoe Ave.
  • Fresno Unified: Oct. 13 or Oct. 26, 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m., Sunnyside High School Library, 1019 S. Peach Ave.
  • Virtual: Nov. 8, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Program information and registration to attend the virtual meetings are online at https://doctorsacademy.ucsf.edu.

Eighth-grade students living outside the Caruthers Unified School District may apply to the Caruthers High School Doctors Academy and will be required to obtain an inter-district transfer. Sunnyside Doctors Academy is only open to Fresno Unified eighth-grade students.

For more information, contact Karina Reyes Banuelos, Caruthers High School acting coordinator, at Karina.reyesfuentes@ucsf.edu, or Paula Peterson, Sunnyside High School coordinator, at paula.peterson@ucsf.edu.

Watch: Doctors Academy at Sunnyside High School

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