FUSD Superintendent receives positive job evaluation from school board

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Saturday, October 29, 2022
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Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson will stay on the job, running the massive district. The school board voted 6 to 1 to approve a positive job evaluation for Nelson this week

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson will stay on the job, running the massive district. The school board voted 6 to 1 to approve a positive job evaluation for Nelson this week, but some say he's still not doing enough.

Nelson has served as the Fresno Unified Superintendent for 6 years, the average tenure for a superintendent in major urban cities in California is less than 3 years.

He says there's still a lot of work ahead, including catching students up to pre-covid standards and he's ready to do it.

"I never even thought I would be a superintendent," said Nelson. "I was a music major when I went to college."

Nelson has called the district home now for over 30 years, 6 of those in his current position

"I'm very thankful," says Nelson. "Not many people get to lead in a system where they came through the ranks."

This week the school board voted 6-1 approving a positive job evaluation for Superintendent Nelson in a year that came with its own set of challenges in the wake of the pandemic.

"It's hard," added Nelson. "People are still bouncing back from a jarring experience and just getting kids back across the threshold. One of our number one priorities has to be attendance."

The positive evaluation means Nelson can now set his sights on the next school year. Along with attendance, he's focusing on addressing staffing shortages and improving digital literacy with the ultimate goal of setting students up for success.

"Almost 90% of our students are children of poverty as measured by the national poverty guideline - that's a lot," said Nelson, "but we know education is the ticket out of poverty."

Some FUSD staff members say the positive feedback for Nelson is no surprise.

"I really came to the district to work for Bob. He's a leader you can get behind," said FUSD Chief Communication Officer Nikki Henry. "He walks the walk and talks the talk."

But others, including Fresno Teachers Association President Manuel Bonilla, say there's room to improve. He points to answers provided by educators in their most recent poll.

"We can say only 33% felt satisfied with the job Nelson and leadership have done in addressing educator concerns and that obviously is concerning to us," said Bonilla.

While Nelson says he's focusing on the future, I did ask if there's anything he would have done differently in past years.

"I would have done something differently every day. This job is complex you're forced to make it up as you go," said Nelson. "There's still more to do. We have a ton of additional stuff."

That one opposing vote on the evaluation was from board member Terry Slatic. Superintendent Nelson's current contract is through 2024. He'll now ask for an extension, which will be up to the school board to decide.