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January 27, 2017

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Picture of the Week

Students join the community in honoring Martin Luther King Jr. during a garlanding ceremony January 20 at Courthouse Park.

Video of the Week

Link to video of the week
Addicott Elementary School, serving students with disabilities, offers new technology and facilities after a renovation project.

Dates to Know

February 7
Excellence in Education Dinner

February 8
5:30 p.m. Board of Education

February 6, 13 and 20
No School for Students


Welcome to Community Zone, an e-newsletter from the Fresno Unified School District featuring news of the district and schools. Sign up to receive this newsletter every two weeks. Questions? Contact

Community News

District Launches new Rapid Alert System to Notify Parents of Emergencies

The district will officially launch a new emergency notification system, Rapid Alert, next week with information for parents on the new text notification plan.  The district will follow up with a text message on Wednesday, February 8 to parents and guardians with easy to follow instructions on how to “opt in.” It’s important that parents “opt in” to give the district permission to contact them via text message when a safety issue arises. Over the next few weeks, the district wants to ensure that parents and guardians are aware of the new emergency notification system, that they “opt in” and most importantly, that they update school sites of any changes to their emergency cell phone numbers on file. View a sample of a Rapid Alert commercial.

Career Technical Education Newsletter Coming Soon

Coming soon!  Fresno Unified College and Career Readiness extends an invitation to subscribe to an upcoming CTE e-newsletter.  This will be a monthly newsletter for teachers, students, parents, and industry partners.  The newsletter will highlight student and teacher experiences, industry news on internships and job opportunities, and other important dates and information to share.  Please subscribe to this newsletter by texting 'CCR' to 42828.  Subscribers will receive a response to add their email address, and can unsubscribe at any time.

February Edition of District Newspaper Available

The latest edition of the district’s newspaper, Building Futures, is now available highlighting news of the district, schools, staff and students. The February edition also includes highlights of first semester athletics.

Students Invited to Enter Mini Garden Competition

Entries are still being accepted for a mini landscape competition for students in kindergarten through high school, put on by Fresno Home & Garden Show.  The projects are fully funded, with the home and garden show in conjunction with Belmont Nursery and Rosenbalm Rockery shipping out trays, Home Depot gift cards and instructions to the teachers. The students create a design and then fill the trays with soil and plants (using the gift cards) to create a mini landscape. This project teaches planning techniques as well as scale.

The students water their displays until they are delivered to the home and garden show on March 2. Licensed landscapers judge four age groups for a first- through third-place winners. Winners receive ribbons and all participants receive certificates. Teachers receive a $30 Staples gift card for participating.
Information on Mini Landscapes Competition

Superintendent Board Remarks from January 25, 2017

Superintendent Michael Hanson provided a brief report to the Fresno Unified Board of Education including:

• Sharing highlights of the January 24 open house at Addicott Elementary School, showing off the site’s new modernized buildings and campus.  Addicott serves Fresno Unified’s most medically fragile and severely disabled students in kindergarten through sixth grade. The superintendent thanked Fresno voters who passed Measure Q, making the $2.5 million modernization possible.  The superintendent went on to thank Addicott Principal Katrina Pleshe, community partners who made yesterday possible and the Fansler Foundation for its generous grant providing equipment for the amazing sensory room. Superintendent Hanson shared a video highlighting the modernization at Addicott.

• The district will officially launch the new emergency notification system, Rapid Alert, next week. The launch will include principal talking points, posters, fact sheets and TV commercials on a number of local stations and in multiple languages.  On February 8, a test message will go out to parents and guardians with easy to follow instructions on how to “opt in.”  It’s important that parents “opt in” to give the district permission to contact them via text message. Over the next few weeks, the district wants to be sure that parents and guardians are aware of the new system, that they “opt in” when they receive that message on the 8, and most importantly, that they update school sites of any changes to their emergency cell phone numbers on file. Next to “opting in,” that is key to ensure parents receive alerts.  The superintendent shared a sample of one of the Rapid Alert commercials.

• Superintendent Hanson ended his remarks by noting a discussion on the upcoming initiative to add health and wellness centers on school campuses scheduled for the February 8 board meeting.  On Monday and Tuesday, February 6 and 7, in advance of that meeting, health providers and staff will be available to the board to answer questions, and review and discuss the contracts.

Full Board Meeting Recap

Employer of Choice

Excellence in Education Honors Top Employees

The district will honor 49 employees, nominated by their peers, during the annual Excellence in Education dinner Feb. 7. These employees have shown amazing skill at their job as well as dedication to their students and the district. They have shown their commitment and enthusiasm in a variety of ways. One high school teacher makes a point to get outside his classroom and greet students in the hallway. Another dedicates every day on the job as a campus culture director to the teachers who got her through tough times when she was in school, including being homeless. Many of these finalists are the first to arrive and the last to leave their school sites.

From among the finalists, top employees will be announced in five categories: classified; elementary certificated (teachers, nurses, speech language pathologists and library media teachers); middle school certificated; high school certificated; and administrators. One teacher and the classified and administrator winners will move on to Fresno County’s Educator of the Year awards.
2017 Excellence in Education Finalists

Edison Basketball Coach Scores 300 Victories

T.J. Wilkins, social science teacher and varsity boys basketball coach at Edison High School, reached a coaching milestone, achieving 300 varsity victories on January 17 with a dramatic victory over Madera South High School.

A message from Holland Locker, an assistant superintendent, to Coach Wilkins said: “Very proud of your coaching/mentoring of hundreds of appreciative student-athletes. FUSD is very fortunate to have you leading our Tiger BB program and the positive impact you have made for our players.”

Administrators win Awards

​The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Fresno Consolidated chapter has a number of winners in the administrator of the year awards for Region 9. They will be honored at a February 22 awards ceremony. Winners are:
Tammy Townsend – Business School Administrator
Paul Idsvoog – Personnel/Human Resources
Edith Navarro – Middle School
Miguel Arias – Classified Management
Yolanda Jimenez-Ruiz – Alternative Education
Charter President Choice Award – Susan Bedi
Region President’s Choice Award – Michael Hanson

School Buzz

Virtual Enterprise Team from Roosevelt Wins Awards

Roosevelt High School's Virtual Enterprise program excelled at the VE International Trade Show January 18-19 in Bakersfield. Competing against 110 teams, Roosevelt students won seventh place for Best Perfect Pitch, eighth place for Best Professional Booth, and honorable mention for Best Newsletter, Best Impact Marketing Piece, Best Employee Manual, and Best Human Resource Scenario Presentation.​

Design Science High School Sweeps Essay Contest

A Design Science High School team of Haroutiun Kglyan, Athena Norris, Lalitta Rathsasombath, Evan Kirschenmann, Jesse Dondiego, Allie Ogawa, Emily Samuelian, Ashley Allen and Rosamaria Ortiz won this year’s Voice of Democracy county-wide essay and speech contest sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).  Haroutiun also won the VFW district contest and competed in Sacramento at the state level where he won an additional $500, bringing his total to $1,200. All local winners were recipients of cash scholarships valued up to $1,000. The team’s VFW sponsor is Design Science teacher Gabe Villasenor.


I Am Ready

the Farbers poster

The “I Am Ready” (social media hashtag: #FresnoReady) citywide movement encourages the entire community to work together to elevate the district towards a 100% graduation rate. This initiative motivates every citizen in Fresno to be a part of the academic success of our nearly 74,000 students. The effort comes on the heels of Fresno Unified’s strongest graduation rates in more than a decade.

In recent years, Fresno Unified graduated more than 80% of students on time, enrolled more than 5,000 of our high school students in Advanced Placement courses, and over 5,000 high school students in career technical education courses. Additionally, more than 85% of graduating seniors applied to an institution of higher learning. 

Nationally, the graduation rate for Hispanics was 76.3% during the 2014-2015 school year, but here in Fresno Unified, the graduation rate for our Hispanic students reached 82.3%. The district is also demonstrating stronger gains for African-American students. Nationally, the graduation rate for African-American students is 72.5%, but here in Fresno, it stands at 82.1%. We are very proud of our overall 84% graduation rate, but we anticipate that percentage to climb with the release of the new numbers.

Great things are indeed happening here, but we will only be able to reach a 100% graduation rate with the support of the entire community. There are a number of ways you can say “I Am Ready” to get involved to support our youth. No deed is too small when it comes to helping our youth and only with everyone’s effort will we reach our goal. Are you ready?

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