Southwest Fresno middle school delayed one year

FRESNO, Calif.

The district said the Rutherford Gaston Middle School will be completed in the spring of 2014, but won't open until the fall semester, in August of 2014

The school site used to be a neighborhood. Homes, a church, a store, an elementary school. The area is still being cleared, and construction on the new middle school has been delayed.

Steve Gonzales will be the principal of the new school when it's built. "We're disappointed obviously in the delay, but again there were unforeseen circumstances."

A school district official told a crowd of concerned residents at the Hinton Community Center that relocating the former residents of the site took more time than anticipated and has delayed construction.

Local resident Roger Brown says not everybody is convinced.

"You have to understand for the families that have kids that go to school was looking forward to being there, on this time. So they took their word on it... If it had been somewhere else, it would have been on time," said Brown, "Like always, it's nothing new, always get the rear end kicked out of us, so it's one of the things we see all the time. It is what it is."

The community is sensitive because it's been more than 30 years since this neighborhood had a middle school. The 7th and 8th grade students who lived here faced long bus rides to different schools.

But long time community activist and former school board member Mary Curry believes the district is doing the best they can. "So I'm not a pessimist I think they had a legitimate reason, and I just want it to be first class when it opens and I hope to be around to see it."

The district now plans to open the Rutherford Gaston Middle School in August of 2014 -- a year behind schedule. Fresno Unified says the school will be completed in spring of 2014, but will delay opening it to students until fall, giving the staff more time to develop curriculum.

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