Some Fresno Unified special needs students get to start the new year in new classrooms

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Shaded play areas, a perimeter fence, and a secure, wider, entrance are the first safety features parents will notice at the newly improved Addicott School. (KFSN)

Fresno Unified is just days away from the start of a new school year. For some students with special needs, they'll be enjoying the first day of school in a new classroom.

Shaded play areas, a perimeter fence, and a secure, wider, entrance are the first safety features parents will notice at the newly improved Addicott School. The school serves medically fragile students with special needs at Fresno Unified.

"When you walked onto our campus before it looked and felt more like a hospital. You don't have that impression now. You walk in and it's almost like an imaginarium," said Katrina Pleshe, principal.

The $2.8 million project paid for by Measure Q was a priority for Fresno Unified officials who are trying to improve access for students with disabilities. The old school was gutted-- and for the last year-- construction was in full force to completely renovate and modernize the facility.

Inside, colorful classrooms with sensory walls and toys fill the handicap-friendly space.

"A lot of our children don't have a lot of verbal language, so we try to give them as much access to communication devices as we can," said Janelle Hastings, teacher.

Hastings showed us around and some of Addicott's new features-- which include bathrooms in every classroom and polished concrete flooring. The school previously had carpet which made it hard for most of the students who use wheelchairs. Increased insulation in the walls has also nearly eliminated the sound of nearby jets flying overhead. There's also better technology.

"We're going to have the projector and they're just now ordering something so we can touch as we go-- kind of like the smart board," said Hastings.

Another big change at Addicott is the brand new nurses station. Before the nurse was basically just in a closet-sized room. Now they have their own large space to treat students and store medical supplies.

The school even has a student kitchen. Sothear Ly's son Thomas has cerebral palsy, autism, and ADHA. She said she's had to pull him out of several schools that couldn't accommodate her son's needs.

"It gets overwhelming at times, and I'm actually pretty glad there's someplace I can send him that I feel comfortable with."

Peace of mind and a safe space for some students who need it the most.
Related Topics:
educationspecial needs childrenback to schoolfresno unified school districtfresnoconstructionfresno - east central
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