Fresno school for special needs students receiving $4 million makeover

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Rata High serves kids from 8th grade all the way up to 20 years old. A $4 million makeover will feature outdoor space and enough indoor space to hold full hospital beds.

Rata High School in northwest Fresno sits empty now, but next year special needs kids will have a brand new school specifically tailored to their needs.

"Here at Rata, we serve Fresno Unified's most severely handicapped and medically fragile students," Principal Gina Gordon-Boni explained.

Construction will soon begin, so this year the kids are using classrooms at Mclane High School.

"Yeah, so we're working on that short-term pain for long-term gain," Gordon-Boni said.

Gordon-Boni was worried some of the kids would have trouble adjusting to the new surroundings but says the transition has gone well.

"Our students range from being in wheelchairs and being able to walk different intellectual disabilities," she said. "It's really a wide range."

Fresno Unified's assistant superintendent Alex Belanger showed us how the $4 million, 10-classroom project will give a major facelift to a campus built in 1972.

"One of the things you're going to be noticing adding to these classrooms is a bathroom in each one of the spaces," he said.

There are 50 students who attend Rata. Some of them are transported in their beds and stay in them during class.

"These are some of our most fragile students, and we're able to give the opportunity to say look, you have the same or equal value," Belanger said.

And the kids will enjoy individualized attention once their new school is ready in August.

"When they benefit so much from new technology and new sensory equipment and just a setting that is fit to them instead of them having to be fit to a setting," Gordon-Boni said.

Funds from Measure Q will pay for the modernization project at the Rata High School.
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