FUSD Special Election

The building of the FUSD. Photo by Peter Maiden

A special election will take place on April 12 to replace Fresno Unified School District (FUSD) Trustee Carol Mills, who passed away last year. She served as a trustee for 17 years. Trustee Area 5 covers the Fresno High School area. Four candidates are vying for the open seat. The Board opted to fill the seat with a special election rather than an internal appointment.

Andy Levine

Background: Part-time professor in the Sociology Department at Fresno State, co-director of the Center for Community Voices at Fresno State, community organizer with Faith in the Valley

Endorsements: Rev. D.J. Criner, senior pastor at Saint Rest Baptist Church; Manuel Bonilla, president of the Fresno Teachers Association; Jake Soberal, co-founder and CEO of Bitwise; Geri Yang-Johnson, Fresno High area parent; Alison Garibay, a former student

Positions:

  • Create community schools to provide more holistic support for students and their families.
  • Invest in social, emotional and mental health.
  • Initiate universal pre-K.
  • Put students, teachers and parents at the center of decisions about district budget spending.
  • Allow respectful public comment.
  • Fund music and the arts across all levels.
  • Opposes banning or censoring books and subject matter.

Daniel Renteria

Background: Retired parole administrator; views himself as a consensus builder

Endorsements: Esmeralda Soria, Fresno City Council member; James Martinez and Kimberly Tapscott-Munson, Fresno County Board of Education trustees; Elizabeth Jonasson, FUSD trustee; Henry R. Perea, former Fresno County supervisor

Positions:

  • Close the reading, writing and math proficiency gap before students graduate.
  • Provide incentives to teachers and help families get involved in student outcomes.
  • Invest in college preparedness, dual enrollment programs and vocational training.
  • Empower and support students, families, teachers and faculty.
  • Ensure that district budgets are balanced and reflect equal access and equity for all students.
  • Bridge the equity gap between general education and special education.
  • Opposes censorship of books if the subject matter is age appropriate.

Andy Fabela

Background: Retired firefighter; says that he has been asking questions of FUSD officials for nearly two decades

Donors: Doesn’t intend to raise or spend more than $2,000

Positions:

  • Advocated for FUSD to put this seat on the ballot rather than making an appointment.
  • Focus more on K-8 education and end social promotion.
  • Strive harder to improve student academic performance.
  • Get “bad” teachers out of classrooms more quickly.
  • Form a parent council at each school in the Fresno High area.
  • Opposes making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for students and staff.
  • Disagreed with changing the Fresno High mascot.

Russ Allen

Background: Retired teacher; practices motorcycle therapy

Donors: Self-financed

Positions:

  • Restore police officers for security on middle school campuses.
  • Believes that teachers can change the course of students’ trajectories with their interaction.
  • Feels that virtual instruction doesn’t give students a good education.
  • Opposes Covid-19 vaccine mandate for students and staff (“I believe in freedom”).
  • Thinks that the Fresno High mascot change “did not involve their community.”
  • Finds the FUSD superintendent limited in information about district administration.
  • Says that district politics can sometimes make the job of teaching less enjoyable.
  • The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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