CUSD Board Discusses Creek Fire and Reopening of Schools

Clovis Unified held a board meeting on September 9. The meeting was also broadcasted on YouTube live to discuss current school events for Clovis Unified School District.

The discussions included topics such as the Creek Fire and what the Board has done to help.

The Board also addressed the concerns of whether schools can open and if they can accommodate students who are more at risk.

At the start of the meeting, Superintendent Eimear O’Farrell took the lead in the discussion with Clovis North Educational Center turning to a shelter for evacuees who had to leave their homes due to the Creek Fire.

Creek Fire

Many people have been displaced, including 200 people who are students and employees of CUSD. Even animals need shelter; the district could help Sierra High School with their agriculture department by transferring animals to Clovis East High School ag farms.

“Campus catering and transportation team prepared meal and went up the hill and delivered meals to families in the 14 hotels in this area,” says O’Farrell, “Our community has been reaching out and helping them as much as possible. We are very grateful that everyone is safe and for sure, it is a very tragic and a stressing time for so many people in our community and so we are going to continue to support as much as we can in Clovis Unified, so grateful and proud of our staff that have been involved and will continue to be.”

A contract between the CUSD and Red Cross was signed back in 1999 that said Clovis Unified would provide facilities and support in a Red Cross emergency in the surrounding areas.

The meals offered to families are out of the CUSD board’s generosity and their programs they help fund.

“I would certainly encourage this if it doesn’t take resources from our kids, and we have that ability to do that we need to give as much. This is public money; this is public food. We need to help our community. I would totally support that,” says Steven Fogg, CUSD board member.

Who can Return to School?

The Board itself has been advocating weekly they have a Return-to-Play plan for sports, band, and choir. Now they are just waiting on a statement from State officials.

Superintendent O’Farrell says the students who need to be accommodated are the ones who are special needs to have one-on-one aid in school—working with the Special Education departments to come up with a plan with safety protocols to get those students in a face-to-face classroom.

Not only is the focus on special needs students, but also ones placed in foster care, English learners, or homeless students that need additional services.

The school board has suggested for parents to advocate for schools to be open. The Fresno Office of Education does not have the authority to make schools operational again.

“We have parents who are out with signs ‘open our schools,’ and we get that, and I love to see the community support us because, at some point, we will. We need to be honest with our community. We aren’t opening our schools tomorrow. It’s going to be on the Governor to really make changes. You’re asking what people can do? They can write a letter to the Governor. They can write to the legislative. They can write and petition that,” says Fogg.

Community Involvement

The Board talked about community involvement. They expect more community members to speak at meetings and address concerns or volunteer time to be involved in discussions about CUSD.

Some of the concerns they address are the institutional racism that they say people believe exists in their district.

“We are trying to move forward. We have put a lot of changes in place, and we want to be the beacon for what a school district should be, in the realm of cultural proficiency,” says O’Farrell.

O’Farrell updated the Board she met with a community member and her peers last week to continue that dialogue. She was frequently holding Intercultural Diversity Advisory Council meetings to gather feedback from parents and students.

“This Board is firm believers of community involvement makes the difference; you know, I remember not too long ago, Steve had mentioned how we have an issue, than all of sudden the next two or one meetings there is a lot of people that show up then it dies. People don’t stay involved. We are hoping this time it’s different, that our community stays involved. We need our community. That’s what makes this district special. That’s what makes this district special,” says Chris Casado, President of the Governing Board.

The Board had two public presentation calls, in which students expressed their grievances about racism they have faced in school.

The Board has taken what they said into consideration and will discuss further on resolving the issue.

Tori Lavon is a Multimedia Journalist from Reedley, California. She received her Bachelor's in Mass Communications and Journalism with an emphasis in Broadcasting from California State University, Fresno. Currently, she is a radio intern at One Putt Broadcasting. On occasion, Tori has the opportunity to be on-air with talent. She is getting her start in media. She has a passion for reporting, photography, and videography. Tori also has a love for art; she loves to draw, paint, and does pottery on the side. One day she hopes she can be on-air talent at a radio station as well.