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December 18, 2017

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Photo of the Week

Balderas Elementary School held it first Hmong New Year Celebration December 8.

Video of the Week

Link to video of the week
Friday Phil performs with Manchester Melodies on December 8

Dates to Know

December 18-January 5
Winter Break

January 10 at 5:30 p.m.
Board of Education


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

London Properties Provides 182 Bikes for Fresno Unified Students

London Properties gifted a total of 182 bikes last week to students at Fremont and Muir elementary schools, Cooper Academy (grades 6-8) and Fort Miller Middle School. In total, throughout the Valley, London Properties is gifting over 360 bicycles as well as helmets and locks. Students receiving the bicycles were nominated by their teachers based on their hard work, effort, attendance and character.

DA’s Office Helps with Gifts for King Students

King Elementary School held its annual gift presentation for students on December 15, thanks to support from the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office.

English Learners Department Wins Coat Drive Contest

District departments collected more than 700 coats during the annual Great Winter Holiday Coat Challenge, at least 400 more than last year. A new department was announced as the winner this year on December 13, with the English Learners Department collecting 253 coats and taking home the Golden Stapler. EL ended Special Education Department’s six years as the champion. Special Education came in a close second with 234 coats. The coats will be donated to Project ACCESS for homeless students and those living in foster care. Departments from throughout the district gathered new and gently used coats.

Student Leaders Collect Gifts for Senior Citizens

Members of Fresno Unified’s Student Advisory Board led a Be a Santa to a Senior drive to collect blankets, gloves, hats, pajamas and other clothing items to give to 1,000 senior citizens who were identified as being alone during the holidays. Students wrapped the gifts on December 15 and will deliver them on December 22.

CoderGirlz Travel to Tech Museum

About 75 CoderGirlz club members (third through sixth graders) traveled to The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose on December 6. They participated in hands-on activities, including the Engineering for Earthquakes lab, Physics of Roller Coasters lab, and Simplicity of Electricity lab. Codergirlz club members from Figarden, Manchester GATE, McCardle, Muir and Rowell elementary schools went on the field trip. The CoderGirlz club membership have increased to about 250 students in 14 clubs throughout the district. More information can be found on 

Watch “60 Seconds with Fresno Unified”

The latest edition features various activities at schools, Council Member Esmeralda Soria’s toy drive for Heaton Elementary School, campus job interviews at Ewing Elementary School, new clean-air buses and a new free winter break meal program.
"60 Seconds with Fresno Unified"

Superintendent Board Remarks from December 13, 2017

Superintendent Bob Nelson provided a brief report to the Fresno Unified Board of Education including:

• Thanking everyone for joining the district for its last board meeting of 2017.

• Thanking community leaders for participating in the Hour of Code with Gaston Middle School students.  CoderGirlz used tutorials to teach basic coding to community members and district leaders.  Teachers and students across the district took part in Hour of Code as part of Computer Science Education Week.  Fresno Unified is committed to inspiring more female students to find careers in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math.

• McLane ArtVenture Academy unveiled its new exhibit focused on the Japanese internment.  The students not only learned about the Japanese internment during history classes but then applied what they learned into an art project.  The exhibit debuted during ArtHop on December 7 at the district’s M Street Arts Complex and runs through January.

• Last week, Nelson spoke at the Parent University recognition reception, which truly celebrated the hard work of parents over the last year.  We know family engagement is a key strategy to increasing student achievement -- we’re only as strong as our parents.  Students have better attendance rates, test scores and are more likely to attend college.  Since its inception, more than 38,000 parents have participated in courses at Parent University.  This is about encouraging parents to become comfortable with the district and engage with their students, teachers and staff.  Our entire community has to engage and be involved.  Here’s a video of the recognition ceremony.

• Finally, as we head into winter break, Nelson thanked everyone for their hard work and commitment to Fresno Unified.  He remains hopeful the state appointed fact finding panel will help the district find resolution with our teachers union.  He encouraged all to unplug from work and take time to connect with family and friends.  The holiday season can also bring on additional stress so make relaxation and recreation a priority.

View Full Board Meeting Recap

Employer of Choice

Update on Negotiations

The state fact finding chair has notified the district and Fresno Teachers Association that given the number of articles at issue and the documents provided at the fact finding hearing, the chair has extended the time needed to issue the fact finding report. The new date for the fact finding report is January 18. The district remains hopeful the state-appointed fact finding panel will help the district find resolution with the teachers union.
Negotiations Update Video

FAQs on Potential Teacher Strike

The district has updated frequently asked questions about a potential teacher strike.
Updated Frequently Asking Questions about a Potential Teacher Strike

Lowell Teacher is Educator of the Week

Diane De La Cerda, a teacher at Lowell Elementary School, was selected as KSEE24’s Educator of the Week on November 27.
KSEE Video of Educator of the Week

School Buzz

Gaston BSU Members Assist Elderly from Church

Gaston Middle School Black Student Union (BSU) members voted to adopt Saint Rest Baptist Church elderly church members for their community service project. On December 2, 16 BSU members cleaned the homes of some of the members of the church. Students washed dishes, scrub toilets, mop, swept, dust and washed windows.  Gaston's BSU is grateful​ for the partnership with Saint Rest and appreciates the opportunity to learn the importance of giving back.​

Bakman Hosts Star Wars Literacy Night

Bakman Elementary School hosted its annual family literacy night December 6, this year with a Star Wars theme. Star Wars characters were on hand for family photos. The school partnered with the Fresno County Child Care Association, which conducted a book drive for the literacy night’s Book Walk and also hosted a book mark center. Staff from the Fresno County Library was available to help students sign up for library cards. Parents had the opportunity to learn how to support their student’s literary skills.

Ewing Students Interview for School-Based Jobs

Ewing Elementary School launched a Meaningful Work Program that offers school-based student jobs with job interviews on December 12. A variety of staff members have volunteered to supervise jobs based on the needs of students and the needs of the school community. Students will learn what jobs need to be done for a school to function successfully while gaining an understanding that their contributions are needed and valued.

Since the first week of December, Ewing students have been encouraged to participate in the work program by viewing a jobs preview video featuring school supervisors highlighting jobs and the skills students may need to be hired, and encouraging them to apply and interview at the job fair.  During the interviews students had the opportunity to showcase their strengths and why they would be a good fit for that position.

The new Meaningful Work Program dovetails with Ewing’s implementation of restorative practices discipline, now in its fourth year at the campus. The Meaningful Work Program exemplifies the three key elements of restorative practices: caring relationships, growth mindsets for teaching and learning, and meaningful opportunities to contribute.
Video of Ewing Job Fair

Balderas Holds Hmong New Year Celebration

Balderas Elementary School held its first Hmong New Year celebration on December 8. The event featured guest speakers, dance performances and a fashion show. Hmong food was available for purchase.

Fresno High Restorative Justice Class Serves Lunch to Cafeteria Staff

The Restorative Justice class at Fresno High School recognized the dedication of the cafeteria staff by serving lunch to them on November 23. One of the aspects of the class is community service. Students felt privileged to honor the cafeteria staff in this way.
Video of Fresno High Lunch for Food Services Staff

Roosevelt Ecology Club and Baseball Team Clean up Neighborhood

Roosevelt High School’s Ecology Club and baseball team is volunteering their time to beautify the neighborhood, one piece of litter at a time.  On November 16, with rain clouds threatening, a dozen committed Rough Riders took to the streets for their third beautification walk of the year.  Students removed an estimated 180 pounds of plastic garbage from entering Fresno's fragile watershed while collecting data and digital imagery as part of studying the impacts of plastic pollution on their local community and the world's oceans.
More Information on the Roosevelt Student Clean Up Efforts

Duncan JROTC Receives Highest Rating

Duncan Polytechnical High School’s Air Force Junior ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) earned an overall unit assessment score of Exceeds Standards, the highest rating attainable. The unit was evaluated Dec. 4 by the Air Force’s Headquarters Inspection Team. Typically, an overall Exceeds Standards rating occurs when three or more of seven sections of the evaluation are rated Exceeds Standards. Duncan received Exceeds Standards in all seven sections.

The evaluation noted that Col. Samuel B. Vandiver and TSgt. George Alvarez have created a dynamic and supportive learning environment along with an excellent community outreach program, and that instructors provide outstanding leadership in administering the cadet centered citizenship program.  The evaluation also noted that the cadets performed exceptionally well and took great pride in leading and accomplishing their unit goals.

Gaston Students Crack the Code

In celebration of Computer Science Education Week, students from Gaston Middle School's CoderGirlz club assisted community leaders in learning how to write several lines of computer code on December 5. Fresno Unified participated in the Hour of Code, which involved more than 400 million students worldwide who each spent an hour coding. During the lesson, students sat side-by-side with community leaders and used simple tutorials to showcase and teach skills related to computer science and the art of developing computer code

Fresno Unified Chief Technology Officer Kurt Madden said many teachers from all grade levels across the district taught similar lessons throughout Computer Science Education Week, December 4-8. ​

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