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Will FUSD Trustees Finally OK $2 Million for Bullard Security Fence?
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By Nancy Price, Multimedia Journalist
Published 1 week ago on
June 5, 2024

A security fence project at Bullard High is up for another vote at next week's Fresno Unified School Board meeting. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)

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Fresno Unified trustees will once again consider spending $2,034,449 for a new security fence, gates, and other fencing improvements for Bullard High School at next week’s board meeting.

Although the amount remains the same, the proposed funding source has changed. The money now would come from a Community Redevelopment Grant and Measure X bond funding instead of Measure M bond funds.

Voters approved the $225 million Measure X in 2016 and the $325 million Measure M in 2020.

The Bullard community has identified the security fencing project as a priority.

Board President Susan Wittrup, who represents the Bullard area, says there are two items on the June 12 agenda designed to improve student safety at the northwest Fresno high school: The new security fencing project and a $274,600 contract to convert space in the library computer lab into four confidential office spaces that Wittrup says will provide psychological safety for students and parents who need to talk with school staff about personal and confidential information.

Both represent “significant” safety improvements for Bullard students and staff, she said.

Opposition to the fencing project has been led by Roosevelt Area Trustee Elizabeth Jonasson Rosas, who has questioned how the project was returned to the Measure M project list after it was bumped off by a School Board vote in 2021.

Current Fence Is Inadequate

The new ornamental steel picket and chain link fencing will enclose the campus and provide a secure, single point of entry through the school office.

There is no fencing now to prevent unauthorized entry, and that has caused problems in the past when parents swarmed the school during a lockdown incident that brought armed police to the campus, principal Armen Torigian told the board earlier this year.

In addition, the current fencing is 4 feet high and easy to jump over.

Limiting entry to schools for security reasons is clearly a priority for the district. After the Bullard fence project was tabled at the April 23 board meeting, the trustees at the May 8 board meeting approved without comment five projects totaling more than $10.7 million for school improvements that included providing a “new, secure, single point of entry.” The funding sources were Measure M and Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III funding.

Jonasson Rosas said she still believes that the district needs to conduct a comprehensive review and assessment of all its facility needs, which she says now total more than $3 billion.

“We have a handful of schools that need to be replaced, HVAC systems that aren’t working well, portables that are over twice their useful life expectancy, and early learning classrooms struggling with classrooms not equipped for the needs of 3-year-olds,” she said. “We need to remember that when we spend on something, something else isn’t getting done.”

‘Do the Right Thing’

Wittrup noted that some Measure M projects are sailing through board approval without discussion, including more than $15 million in projects at the most recent board meeting on May 22 that included a new gymnasium for McLane High School and new athletic fields for Edison High.

“My hope is that the four trustees who voted to table the Bullard fence will stop weaponizing bond measure money as a means of political retaliation. I hope, for the sake of our students, the trustees will do the right thing and vote to approve both items,” she said.

Wittrup said last month that the vote to table was in retaliation for her efforts to ensure that the district conducts a nationwide search for its new superintendent.

She warned that withholding funding for “long-promised Bullard region projects” could give northwest Fresno voters a reason not to vote for future bond measures.

“Even worse, student safety at Bullard will be directly compromised if either item fails to be approved,” Wittrup said.

The School Board is considering putting a new $500 million bond measure on November’s ballot that would raise the district’s tax rate to $238.86, which would be the highest in Fresno County.

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Nancy Price,
Multimedia Journalist
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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