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Fresno Unified Trustee Moves Into Westlands Water District Gig



Fresno Unified headquarters (GV Wire File)
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Fresno Unified Trustee Elizabeth Jonasson Rosas is embarking on a new career as the public affairs representative for the Westlands Water District, which identified her in its announcement Wednesday as Elizabeth Jonasson.

Jonasson Rosas says she’s fine being identified either way.

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

The new job could help Jonasson Rosas avoid scheduling conflicts she sometimes encountered while working at the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission, where she was the strategy and communications officer until Oct. 1. The Westlands board meets on the third Tuesday monthly, while Fresno Unified trustees gather on alternating Wednesdays.

It’s unclear if Jonasson Rosas will be damaging her street cred among progressives by going to work for Westlands. State Center Community College District Trustee Nasreen Johnson caught some flak earlier this year when she took a job as director of communications and external affairs for Caglia Environmental, a waste services company headed by fellow Trustee Richard Caglia.

Fresno Unified Seeks ‘Positive’ Communications Director

One job that Jonasson Rosas could not have landed, at least not without giving up the Roosevelt High Area 2 seat: The district is looking for a director of communications whose job would include accentuating the positive.

The job posting that went up last week says the following: “The Director of Communications will work alongside the Chief Information Officer to develop and implement a positive communications and public relations strategic plan aimed at living our Fresno Unified values, improving internal culture, and increasing positive public perception. The Director will also be responsible for increasing engagement internally and externally in all of our communications channels. We are seeking a communications professional who is well-versed in online marketing and engagement, social media strategy, visual and auditory storytelling, and event planning. Candidates must be able to manage and direct a department budget, provide oversight and development for a team of staff, and build strong, positive relationships across our system.”

Annual pay is $108,315, which doesn’t include retirement and health care benefits.

Word of the newly created job caught board President Valerie Davis somewhat by surprise on Wednesday. She said she’s been lobbying Superintendent Bob Nelson to hire a doctor to head up the district’s nursing operations and oversee resources. “I’ll have to ask him about it,” she said about the new communications position.

Chief Information Officer Nikki Henry said the new job is “backfill” for the position of executive officer of communications that was held by Amy Idsvoog, who has now moved to a new department as “Executive Officer focused on health, safety, and emergency response.”

Also in School Zone: 

  • Grant helps district pump up its equity-centered principal pipeline.
  • Edison High celebrates AP test victories.
  • School Board meetings seen through the lens of  “Saturday Night Live” 

FUSD Gets $8.2M Grant to Develop Principals

Fresno Unified was one of eight large, high-needs districts selected by The Wallace Foundation for its Equity-Centered Pipeline Initiative to develop principals “who can advance each district’s own vision of equity.”

The $8.2 million grant will be spread over five years and will enable the district to develop mentoring and training for current and future principals, in conjunction with community and university partners.

The foundation’s initiative is based on research that effective principals are necessary for students and their schools to be successful, and the foundation will be conducting independent research studies on how best to create principal pipelines to meet equity goals.

With the recent increase in philanthropic investment in Fresno Unified and in hopes of more to come, the district decided it’s time to create a nonprofit, The Foundation for Fresno Unified Schools.

It’s unclear whether this foundation will supplant the Fresno Unified Education Foundation, which was established to collect charitable donations to “fund educational enhancements,” and the Fresno Unified Scholarship Fund for student scholarships. Both are under the umbrella of the Central Valley Community Foundation.

The district plans to announce the new Foundation for Fresno Unified Schools at an upcoming news conference.

Pandemic Didn’t Prevent This School’s AP Prowess

Edison High recently celebrated the accomplishments of 365 sophomores, juniors, and seniors who received a qualifying score on their 2021 Advanced Placement tests. For many colleges and universities, a qualifying score can serve as college credit — and can be a big boost for student budgets.

Because AP classes are college-level coursework, students have to work even harder to absorb the material and then take and pass the test at the end of the year. And during the past school year, when schools remained closed to in-person instruction for the most part, students had to learn the course material under vastly different education circumstances.

But they prevailed. Last year 1,100 Edison students took at least one AP test, and 648 exams received qualifying scores, the district reported.

Senior Gannon Peebles, who achieved qualifying scores on all five of his AP exams, said he felt “relieved, but also proud. The tests were challenging because of distance learning, but to see myself work through that and succeed fills me with a sense of incredible pride.”

To Gannon and his fellow Tigers, congratulations!

Are School Board Meetings Intentionally Funny?

Apparently “Saturday Night Live” writers think they are, based on this skit that aired last weekend. Enjoy!

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email