Fresno Unified trustees will consider awarding a $452,000 contract to paint the exterior of Edison High School. The contract award is on Wednesday’s board meeting agenda.
But one thing that won’t get painted is the murals on the front-facing walls of the southwest Fresno high school.
The murals that include labor activist Cesar Chavez and poet Maya Angelou are not to be touched, according to a staff report accompanying the contract award.
“All existing art shall remain unaltered,” the staff report says.
Board spokeswoman Nikki did not respond to a query about whether the district plans to leave the existing art unaltered into perpetuity, or just until the district can figure out how to relocate it. District officials previously talked about having the artist who assisted students with the murals repaint them on an inward-facing wall at the school.
Community Members Want Murals Off School’s Front
Bob Mitchell, vice chairman of the Westside Planning Committee, told GV Wire he was unaware that the district now appears to be protecting the artwork that community members wanted removed from the front of the school.
“I am very disappointed. Very disappointed. Because that community had a lot of faith that the district was doing the right thing,” Mitchell said.
He was among several Westside residents who spoke to the board in June about repainting the school, which he and others said looked like a “prison” because of its drab gray exterior. The community members also said they wanted the murals erased from the front of the school so that Edison would be more in line with other Fresno Unified high schools, none of which has artwork visible from the front.
The board agreed at the meeting to proceed with awarding a painting contract to brighten up Edison’s color scheme, including the newly expanded gym that was painted just before it opened last year. Edison’s colors are gold and black, but the new gym was painted in dark gray with accents that now look orange instead of gold.
The board’s decision in June to repaint the school and find a new home for the murals quickly caught the attention of school staffers, one of whom started an online petition in protest. They noted that the district had made no effort to consult with students and staff before agreeing to repaint the school and move the murals to a new location.
The low bidder for the painting contract is Primal Paint Inc. of San Jose. The School Board meeting is scheduled to start at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday and will be held in the downtown Education Center at M and Tulare Streets.