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FUSD Has Spent $1.5 Billion on Facilities Since 2006. It Might Ask Voters for $500M More.
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By Nancy Price, Multimedia Journalist
Published 5 days ago on
June 10, 2024

This graphic shows how Fresno Unified has spent facilities money by region over the past two decades. (Fresno Unified School District)

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Fresno Unified trustees on Wednesday will learn the results of a third community survey about a proposed $500 million bond measure for the November ballot that would raise the district’s property tax rates to the highest among school districts in Fresno County.

Since July 1, 2006, the district has spent $1,536,819,856 on facilities investments for the seven high school regions, the Center for Advanced Research and Technology, and support offices, according to a district report.

Roosevelt High School, one of the city’s older high schools, led the way with $265,451,627 in facilities spending, followed by Bullard High with $228,810,635, Edison High with $221,891,365, and Fresno High with $220,879,329.

But the Measure M spending pattern has been more lopsided: Edison was the big winner, with $47,948,504, followed by Fresno High with $32,517,913, and “Specialty” with $31,669,493. Altogether, the investments through Measure M for the high school regions, “Specialty,” and support offices have totaled $195,254,545, the district reported. Measure M is a $325 million bond measure that voters approved in 2020.

The district did not immediately respond to a query Monday about what constitutes the “specialty” category, why it doesn’t appear as a category before Measure M, and whether the $1.5 billion total for facilities investments also includes revenue sources other than bond measures.

Tuesday afternoon the district said the totals from 2006 through today included funding from local bond measures and other sources, whereas the information about Measure M spending was specific to Measure M revenues. Staffers had been asked to separate specialty sites, which include “non-boundaried” schools, and support offices in the Measure M data.

Measure M’s remaining project list include deferred maintenance and small capital projects, gym HVAC systems for Ahwahnee, Hamilton, Yosemite, and Bullard; second gyms for McLane and Roosevelt; and safety access improvements for Baird, Calwa, Cooper, Hollard, Norseman, Roeding, Scandinavian, and Tioga.

Measure M Unfunded Projects

The district expects to run out of Measure M funding without completing $37 million in projects that include $21 million for the Fresno High cafeteria and plant coordinator facility, $7 million apiece for new administration buildings at Hoover and Roosevelt high schools, and $2 million for the Farber South Business Campus-Collaboration and Conference Building.

The money for those projects would come out of the proposed $500 million bond measure, according to the district’s proposal.

Two things set this bond measure apart from earlier ones: The board will consider not only age and need but also “equity” when reviewing projects, and the Fresno Teachers Association will collaborate with the district on how to spend at least one-third of the bond for improvements such as expanding the number of classrooms to reduce class sizes, providing music spaces and workspaces, and other educational facility improvements.

The bond measure proposal includes $167 million for the union-collaborated projects, $37 million for the remaining Measure M projects, $80 million for deferred maintenance and small capital projects, $80 million for turf, track, lights, and stands at five of the seven comprehensive high schools, $15 million for the new School of Aeronautics, $20 million for unforeseen needs and cost escalation, and $101 million for other projects approved by the board based on feedback.

Fresno Unified voters have a long history of approving bond measures starting with Measure K, a $199 million bond measure approved in 2001, the $200 million Measure Q approved in 2010, and the $225 million Measure X that voters passed in 2016.

The School Board had considered setting the Measure M bond measure at $500 million but ultimately concluded that the higher amount would put too big a burden on the district’s homeowners and renters, many of whom are lower-income and struggle to make ends meet. Homeowners pay for the district’s bonds through their property taxes, and tenants pay for the property taxes through their rents.

The board settled on a $325 million bond for Measure M, which voters approved in 2020.

Bigger Bond Measure = Higher Tax Rate

A $500 million bond measure will not come close to meeting the district’s facilities needs that are now estimated at more than $2.5 billion. But it would result in Fresno Unified having the highest tax rate among school districts in Fresno County.

Fresno Unified’s rate now is $213.86 per $100,000 of assessed property value and is second only to Central Unified’s rate of $215.60. With a $500 million bond measure Fresno Unified’s rate would climb to $238.86.

The School Board has not yet scheduled a vote on putting a bond measure on the November ballot. Wednesday’s board meeting, which will include the consultant’s report on the community survey, will start at 6:30 p.m. and be held in the Education Center in downtown Fresno at M and Tulare streets.

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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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