Fresno Unified plans to expand in Southeast Fresno

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno Unified School District is gearing up to start planning a new elementary or high school. The district recently acquired a large piece of property on the southeast part of town.

More than 73-thousand students attend Fresno Unified Schools and administrators say that number is growing.

"We do have quite a bit of enrollment in the southeast part of the district it's fast growing both at the elementary level and the high school level," said Karen Temple, Fresno Unified School District.

Temple says the southeast part of town houses some it's largest elementary schools and biggest high school -- Sunnyside -- and overcrowding has become an issue. Sunnyside High School is the district's newest, traditional high school and is less than a mile away from this vacant property on the corner of Church and Peach. Last week school board members approved going into escrow on the land as a site for a future school to accommodate all of the growth in the southeast.

"Our long range facilities master plan does specifically call for the need for a high school in the southeast region as well as an elementary school so that's why we'll be launching into some deep planning efforts," said Temple.

Sunnyside High already has 2,800 students. While Storey Elementary, just next door to the land, has 1,000.

Board members have mixed views on what money should be spent on the project. For now, the district is using Measure Q funds to begin the purchase process and run tests on the property required by the state in order to build a school there.

The 32 acre property sits right next to another 18 acres that the district owns, giving them a lot of land to work with.

While Fresno Unified officials say the purchase comes after years of extensive research on enrollment numbers in the area, some parents who live near here say even though classes are full -- they don't to see the district spend money on building a new school.

"It's just more traffic and it's not a good idea to have an elementary school and a high school right next to it, it's not a good idea," said Trinidad Casillas, parent.

Escrow on the property is expected to take six to eight months. Before it closes the district will hold a public hearing on the project with board members taking a final vote this spring.
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