Installing portable classrooms is a fairly typical move for schools that have more students than instructional space, although not always a desired solution.
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In the case of Justin Garza High School, Central Unified’s newest school, portables will be needed next fall because classroom space won’t be available for the four grade levels, freshmen through seniors.
The School Board voted in January to lease eight modular classrooms for three years at a total cost of $512,880, which includes delivery, set up, and return costs over a three-year period. Last month, the board approved an $82,920 contract with Darden Architects for architectural, electrical, civil, landscape, and site improvement plans. The district is using developer fees to cover the costs of both.
Why would an almost brand-new high school — phase 1 of Justin Garza High opened in August 2021 to grades 9 and 10 and added a junior class last year — need portable classrooms?
Phase 2 of the project includes the VAPA (Visual and Performing Arts) building which will include seven classroom spaces. The district said in January it was still waiting for the Division of the State Architect to greenlight the VAPA drawings, which needs to happen before construction can begin.
Also in School Zone:
- The Central School Board approves a new mascot for Madison Elementary School.
- Westlands Water District expands scholarship program.
District spokesman Gilbert Magallon told School Zone the need for portables is not because Central voters rejected Measure C in March 2020 by a mere 19 votes. Eight months later, voters approved Measure D. The district is using bond measure funds to build the high school.
“Measure C not passing would not have likely changed our timeline as we always planned to open during the 2021-2022 school year and knew that a project of this scope would be built in phases,” he said in an email. But Magallon did not respond to a query as to whether the district had originally planned for portable classrooms.
New Mascot for Madison
Last month, Central’s School Board approved a new mascot logo for Madison Elementary School, which had come under fire because its old mascot was a Native American warrior. The mascot logo was part of a campaign spearheaded by a Central Unified student and his parents to change the name of schools named after American presidents who had owned slaves, and also change school mascots deemed offensive.
The board decided not to rename Madison Elementary, since it wasn’t a certainty that the school — which sits on Brawley Avenue at Madison Avenue — was named for the slave-holding fourth U.S. president. The board did vote to strip the name of the 11th president, James K. Polk, from another elementary that’s now named Central Elementary.
Madison students are still the Warriors but now will be represented by a large M.
College Scholarships for West Side Seniors
Westlands Water District will award up to 17 $1,000 scholarships to students who are now attending high schools on the west side of the Valley across the region.
This will be the 17th year for Westlands to offer scholarships.
Seniors graduating from these high schools are eligible to apply: Reef-Sunset Unified, Coalinga-Huron Unified, Firebaugh-Las Deltas Unified, Hanford Joint Union High School District, Lemoore Union High School District, Mendota Unified, Riverdale Joint Unified, and Golden Plains Unified.
Applicants will be judged on their application, essay, academic transcripts, references, leadership, community contributions, career goals, and need.
The deadline to apply is April 23. Applications and all supporting documents may be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, by mail to Westlands Public Affairs, P.O. Box 6056, Fresno CA 93703, or in person at 3130 N. Fresno St., Fresno.