$21M in Upgrades Set for Roosevelt, Bullard, but What to Do About Ancient ‘Portable’ Classrooms? - GV Wire - Explore. Explain. Expose
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$21M in Upgrades Set for Roosevelt, Bullard, but What to Do About Ancient ‘Portable’ Classrooms?

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Fresno trustees will approve major school improvement contracts Wednesday night. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)
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The Fresno Unified School Board will consider approving $21 million in contracts for improvements to Roosevelt and Bullard high schools tonight, including long-awaited air-conditioning for Bullard’s gyms and modernization of Roosevelt’s library, West Hall, Audra McDonald Theater, and administration building.

Money for the two contracts would come from the district’s Measure M Fund. Measure M is a $325 million bond approved by voters in March 2020 to raise revenues through property taxes.

But the district also will be grappling with funding the replacement of 650 portable buildings, some of which are positively ancient, according to a report from staff to board members last Friday. Decisions on replacing portable buildings will come before the board in the future.

On Wednesday, the board will consider awarding a $17.837 million contract to SOLPAC Construction Inc., doing business as Soltek Pacific Construction Company, the low bidder for the Roosevelt contract. The other bidders were AMG & Associates of Santa Clarita and Davis Moreno of Fresno. Davis Moreno’s CEO, Stephen Davis, is embroiled in a longtime lawsuit against the district and Harris Construction over the lease-leaseback contract to build Gaston Middle School

The low bidder on the Bullard contract is Strategic Mechanical Inc. of Fresno, with a bid of $3.165 million. Davis Moreno submitted a bid on that project also.

Wednesday’s meeting is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. and will be at the Education Center and Tulare and M streets in downtown Fresno.

Aging Portables

Meanwhile, 1,004 of the district’s 1,188 are 20 years old or older — including 31 that are 60 years or older. In last week’s report to the board, district officials recommended replacing 650 of them. The district did not immediately respond Wednesday to a query about the replacement cost.

Later Wednesday, spokeswoman Nikki Henry said the cost to replace 650 portables has not been determined.

The typical cost in the past has been $1.8 million for two portables, she said. However, “With economies of scale, we would expect costs per portable to go down if larger quantities were purchased and installed,” Henry said.

Trustees in the past have expressed reluctance to spend bond money on so-called “temporary” buildings, but district administrators appear to be leaning in that direction.

“This particular need for building replacement would factor into the current and ongoing potential bond project work. It would also be included in the planned collaborative work with the Fresno Teacher’s Association to plan for facility investments as per the recently ratified Collective Bargaining Agreement,” the board communication says.

Although portables can be used for a variety of purposes, the majority are used for classrooms.

McLane High has the most portables, with 30, followed by Ewing Elementary with 26, and Cambridge High School with 25.

According to the district’s spreadsheet, 31 portable buildings are 60 years old or older. They include five at Wolters Elementary and four each at Del Mar Elementary and Manchester GATE.

The life span of a portable building is considered to be 30 years, and Fresno Unified has 654 portables that are 30 years old or older.

FUSD’s Old Portables

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

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