District Plans to Invest in New and Upgraded Classrooms

On Nov. 8, members of our community will make their voices heard at political polling places throughout our city. Nationally, we will elect our next president, ending what has been one of the most fiercely combative campaigns in our lifetime. Locally, Fresno will choose a new mayor, one I hope that will continue to be a cheerleader and advocate for the heavy lifting that goes on in our city, especially around the efforts supporting our youth. Mayor Swearengin has served as a true steward for the city of Fresno and I couldn't be more grateful for the support she has shown to our District these last eight years - doing all she could to change conditions in the present for our youth.

Voters will also weigh in on the district's $225 million bond -- Measure X -- on Nov. 8, a continued effort to support school facility improvements. The bond measure, if passed, will not increase tax rates, but will address bond investment priorities we heard during seven community outreach meetings and from our Board of Education. I am extremely grateful to those who attended and provided feedback at our community meetings as well as those who shared their thoughts through the online survey. That input has helped us identify this next phase of facility priorities.

Potential investments include new/upgraded classrooms and technology; career technical education facilities; safety and security improvements, facilities for arts, activities and athletics; repairs/upgrades to infrastructure; and a new southeast school to accommodate enrollment. Fresno Unified's Facilities Master Plan was created back in 2009 with the understanding that the plan would take more than 15 years to implement and fund. That initial funding was provided by Measure Q and with community support from Measure X, Fresno Unified hopes to continue making improvements in our schools and our neighborhoods for years to come.

Speaking of our neighborhoods, I find it important to address recent safety concerns that have impacted not only our neighborhoods, but our city -- social media threats. We all realize that social media has changed our world for the better in many ways. But I have been reminded during this first quarter of the school year about the significant downsides. Over the last many weeks, Fresno Unified, like many districts around the country, has seen an increase in social media threats, unnerving school communities and parents alike. While all have proven to be unsubstantiated and nothing more than senseless acts of bad judgment, Fresno Unified takes them extremely seriously. The district and the Fresno Police Department want students and parents to know that making false social media threats is a serious matter, and considered a criminal offense. Making such threats can result in suspensions, expulsions and even worse, an arrest, as it has for three district students so far.

It's vital we have conversations with our youth around cyber safety, appropriate use of social media platforms and the consequences associated with misusing it. I hope you will join me in reminding our youth that if they see a potential threatening online post, not to join in on the conversation or repost, but instead, report it immediately to an adult.

The district is working hard to get our youth across that graduation stage so they can find success beyond high school, and it's tragic to think that some may lose that opportunity because of a poor decision on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Join us in the conversation.