Bullard-area parents air complaints to Fresno Unified trustees

The Fresno BeeFebruary 13, 2013 

Bullard-area parents and Fresno Unified trustees squared off Wednesday night over a list of complaints about northwest Fresno schools.

In a long presentation to the board, Fresno attorney Chuck Manock assailed trustees for being resistant to Bullard-area parents' concerns and for accusing the parents of disseminating misinformation.

"We are not your enemies. We don't attack. We need to work together. You represent us. Let's get to the bottom and fulfill your promise."

The parents' demands include getting gifted and talented programs at Bullard and its feeder schools, a "high standard of dress" to be established and that parents be given more voice in school decisions and relief for overcrowding at Bullard High School.

Following presentations by members of Reform Fresno, Superintendent Michael Hanson lashed out at attacks made on himself and trustees. "That everyone sitting here is a liar is simply not the case," he said.

Earlier in the evening, a staff recommendation for trustees to approve a master plan for $35 million in building improvements at Bullard failed to pass.

The plan came under attack from newly elected trustee Luis Chavez, who represents the Roosevelt area. Chavez questioned a disparity in spending bond money between Bullard in northwest Fresno and for schools in the south part of the city.

"I have a hard time wrapping my mind around Bullard receiving $74 million in Measure K and Measure Q bond money for improvements when other high schools, such as Roosevelt, received only $22 million," Chavez said. The bond measures provide $282 million for improvements at the district's high schools.

Chavez asked for a copy of the district's 2008 assessment of building needs and that trustees discuss the policy for distributing resources.

McLane area Trustee Christopher De La Cerda, who was appointed in November, said he shared Chavez's concerns about what appeared to be a lopsided allocation of money and wanted more information.

Trustee Michelle Asadoorian, who represents the Bullard area, argued for passage, saying she is proud of the building plan and that Bullard was in line to receive Measure Q funds because it was at the bottom of the list for Measure K money.

Trustees voted 6-1, with Asadoorian dissenting, to bring the plan back in two weeks for consideration.

In other action:

-- Trustees hired Maqueda Randall-Weeks as assistant superintendent of school leadership with an emphasis on early learning. Her annual salary is $126,067. Randall-Weeks comes from a job as special assistant to the superintendent for school improvement for the Philadelphia school district.

-- Approved boundary changes affecting 35 schools in the McLane, Roosevelt and Sunnyside areas. The changes were recommended to align elementary, middle and high schools.

Up to 1,300 students may be affected by the boundary changes. Families will receive letters about the changes.

A map of the changes is at www.fresnounified.org.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6310, banderson@fresnobee.com or @beehealthwriter on Twitter.

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