After a week of speculation, Fresno Unified’s renewed University High School’s charter Wednesday night at its weekly board of trustees meeting, which was packed with students and parents from the school.
“University High School is an absolute jewel in our city,” Trustee Janet Ryan said. “I don’t think it was ever the intention of anybody on this board that we would not renew this charter.”
The school, which enrolls nearly 500 students, was named among the country’s top 100 high schools by U.S. News & World Report earlier this year, and the seventh best in California.
Last week, Trustee Cal Johnson called the school’s diversity into question by noting the lack of black students. The student body is 37 percent Asian, 36 percent white, 22 percent Hispanic, about 3 percent black and about 2 percent other nationalities, according to the school.
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At the meeting Wednesday, an alumna spoke of her positive experience at the charter school, and a mother read a letter of support from her son, who couldn’t attend because he was busy with midterms at Stanford.
I would hope that we could use the same scrutiny that we’re putting on University High, and bring it back to our high schools – I think that we could be a better place.
Trustee Brooke Ashjian
Johnson was not present this week, but every other board member spoke highly of the school before the 6-0 vote to approve the charter’s renewal through June, 30, 2022.
“I’m overwhelmingly impressed with the 97 percent of University High School students ... who enrolled in a post-secondary opportunity. With Fresno Unified’s 2 percent college readiness numbers ... I would hope that we could use the same scrutiny that we’re putting on University High, and bring it back to our high schools – I think that we could be a better place,” said Trustee Brooke Ashjian, whose comments drew applause from the packed house.
Diversity was still an issue with many on the board, but each of them said they believed it was a challenge they could overcome.
“We do want to see more children who are socioeconomically challenged getting into the school if they want to,” Ryan said. “I think we can do that by working together.”