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FUSD School Board Eyes $47.8M Contract for New Farber Campus



Artist rendering of the main classroom building on the Francine and Murray Farber Educational Campus. (Fresno Unified School District)
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The Fresno Unified School Board next week will consider awarding a $47.8 million construction contract and project labor agreement to build the new Francine and Murray Farber Educational Campus in southeast Fresno.

The contract will be the district’s second project labor agreement in which the contractor agrees to use union workers in exchange for guarantees of no work stoppages. The construction of Juan Felipe Herrera Elementary School, which is scheduled to open this August in southeast Fresno, was the district’s first such labor agreement.

Similar to the Herrera project labor agreement, the Farber PLA will include intern and pre-apprentice job opportunities for district students.

Five bids to build the Farber Campus at 10th Street and Ventura Avenue were submitted to the district, of which three were rejected because they were deemed “nonresponsive” as they included a subcontractor for site utilities that was not prequalified as required in the bid documents.

Davis Moreno Is Winning Bidder Again

The low and apparently winning bidder is Davis Moreno Construction Inc. of Fresno, which also won the bid to build Herrera Elementary.

Davis Moreno’s history with the district has been contentious. The company’s CEO is suing Fresno Unified over earlier construction projects that were categorized as “lease-leaseback” and were awarded to a competitor, Harris Construction Inc. Steven Davis’ suit contends the district’s no-bid contract with Harris to build Rutherford Gaston Middle School violated California bidding laws, state Education Code, and conflict of interest laws.

The suit is still pending before the California Supreme Court.

The entire cost of the Farber Campus is now estimated at $65.3 million and includes the construction contract, design work, furnishings and equipment, and other costs, chief operating officer Karin Temple told GV Wire on Friday.

“The construction bid award recommendation ($47.847M) is very near the estimate for construction only,” she said in an email.

New Home for Alternative Programs

The 12.8-acre Farber Campus is expected to open in August 2024 and will be the new home for students now attending alternative education programs at Cambridge Continuation High School, J.E. Young Academic Center, and the eLearn Center. Students will have the options of dual enrollment (college-level courses offered at high schools) and several career technical education program pathways. For the first time, Cambridge and J.E. Young students will have access to an on-site school library.

The campus also will include a Student Union where students and others can grab meals, and spaces will be available for community meetings for parent groups and others.

In addition, the site will provide office space for district departments, including special education and the Department of Prevention and Intervention.

The public session of the School Board meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday and will be held in the district’s downtown headquarters at M and Tulare streets.

This map shows the contours of the Francine and Murray Farber Educational Campus. (Fresno Unified School District)

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