We are opposed to the Fresno Unified School District’s Measure X, a position that we do not take lightly.
The 2018 election would be a better time to seek a school bond, when the FBI investigation and lease-leaseback litigation hopefully will be resolved. This bond was rushed, with only a brief window for community input shortly after school started.
At Fresno High, the district intends to remove some basketball courts, tennis courts and precious field/open space to put in a small second gym, which parents and staff have stated we don’t have room for at this time and will adversely impact physical education and athletics.
We do have a list of other facility needs we would like addressed, but FUSD is not listening. Measure X would remove open space from several schools currently used as park space under the agreement with the city of Fresno.
Measure X is a broken promise. FUSD in 2010 promised that the long-term site master plan for Fresno High provide for removal of north and south academic halls and replacing them with multistory buildings with a smaller footprint; to open up space needed for a second gym, provide more open space, and build modern, educationally suitable classrooms.
The district has unilaterally decided to break this promise. We need multistory buildings for open-space requirements; Fresno High is at about 50 percent of the state-recommended ratio.
It also is troubling that FUSD has been paying employee salaries from bond money – over $4 million of Measure Q has gone to salaries to date. This means salaries are being financed over 30 years and FUSD plans to continue this in X.
Many schools will receive nothing from X. The project list released by the district on Oct. 14 shows deferred maintenance items; indicates schools that “may” receive money for projects from X, and makes some projects contingent on a state bond passing (polls show it is failing).
Yet, the staff couldn’t provide an estimated cost of a second gym. If FUSD hasn’t done a cost projection for projects, how can we know what can or will be done?
Will FUSD use local contractors? Nothing in the bond commits to local hire. Both the Fresno Chamber of Commerce and Building Trades refused to support X, despite a request to do so, and have remained neutral.
Will X be subject to legal attack if it passes? Charters asked to be included so they could have legally required “reasonably equivalent” facilities and were denied by the district administration. Will this create legal issues around allocation and spending of bond money? The California Charter Schools Association is opposing the bond, as is the Lincoln Club.
We are asking voters to vote “no” on X and allow FUSD to do it right in 2018, with community input and transparency.
Carol Mills represents Area 5 and Brooke Ashjian represents Area 7 on the Fresno Unified School District board of trustees.