Central Unified is getting a new high school. Here’s what to expect

After more than a decade of waiting, Central Unified School District is finally breaking ground on its new high school, slated to open in fall 2021.

The as-yet-to-be-named school will sit on the northeast corner of Ashlan and Grantland avenues, adjacent to Harvest Elementary, Glacier Point Middle School and Koligian Stadium. Construction is expected to take two years and will cost about $130 million.

Architects designed unique features for the school, such as a community plaza outdoor mall that leads into an indoor campus mall. The indoor mall will have a glass ceiling to let in natural light.

The school “caters to the modern learning environment as well as a college-ready atmosphere,” according to Joseph Martinez, the director of facilities planning at Central Unified.

The new high school will ease congestion at the district’s east and west campuses, which are holding 2,616 and 1,600 students, respectively. Those campuses are currently using portables for the overflow of students.

The district is projected to keep growing alongside new developments popping up in the area, Martinez said.

The waiting game

Voters approved the high school in 2008 — so why the delay?

“What took so long was, in 2008, the recession hit and with that went funding for the project,” according to Assistant Superintendent Kelly Porterfield.

In that time, another local bond was passed. District and state funds are also being used for the project.

School officials haven’t determined if Central Unified will now have three high school campuses, or if something else will be done, Porterfield said. There’s a possibility one of the campuses will become a magnet school.

A transition committee is tasked with figuring it out, and the district board will have ultimate approval.


The public is invited to attend the groundbreaking ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Congressman Jim Costa, Assemblymen Joaquin Arambula and Jim Patterson, and Fresno City Council members are expected to be in attendance.

Ashleigh Panoo: 559-441-6010, @AshleighPanoo