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VUSD to break ground on elementary school site

VUSD to break ground on elementary school site

Ceremony will be held on May 29 at the corner of Ferguson Street and Denton Avenue

@TheSunGazette

VISALIA – Visalia Unified is ready to break ground on its 27th elementary school, and its sixth school site in the last decade. 

A groundbreaking ceremony for Visalia Unified School District’s (VUSD) newest elementary school will be held at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, May 29. The new school will be located in northwest Visalia at the corner of Ferguson Street and Denton Avenue. The community is invited to attend this special celebration, which will include comments by VUSD Board President William Fulmer and Superintendent Dr. Todd Oto. The architect, builder and representatives of community organizations will also be on hand for the celebration. The new school is set to open August 2019.

“We take very seriously our commitment to keep up with our community’s growth, and this fast-growing area of Visalia needs this school,” Dr. Oto noted. “New elementary schools are funded with developer fees, and we maximize these funds by utilizing existing state-approved designs.”

Over the next few months, an advisory group comprised of staff, students and parents will work to develop the school name, mascot and colors. Adopted in 1997, the district’s policy regarding school names was revised 10 years ago and allows names to fall into three main categories: landmarks and regions; cultural and historical references to native plants; and after an individual. The latter comes with a list of restrictions meant to prevent the overuse of names. The individual must have been a resident of Visalia Unified School District and may only be a state or national figure if they lived in the area. The individual must have spent multiple decades working to specifically improve the communities served by the district through a local public school in the district, community development and the health and safety of youth. Only deceased individuals who have been gone for at least one year may be considered.

“The desire to name a school after an individual is an act to specifically honor one person. This inherently limits the extent to which a broad-based school community associates with an individual person. Because high schools and middle schools serve a broad area of feeder schools and neighborhoods, they will not be named after an individual or family. Naming an elementary school after an individual is deemed a highly unique and exceptional honor and shall be considered only after meeting specific standards and criteria.”

Names of distinguished individuals who do not meet the criteria for naming of a new school, may be considered for specific buildings/facilities/athletic grounds within a school site, such as a gymnasium, courtyard or garden. Also, commercial developments are not eligible for consideration.

After the deadline, a committee made up of board members, business representatives and the assistant superintendent will review the list of all the names and recommend a name from the list. This name will be presented to the School Board, which will have the final decision on the name of the school.

VUSD purchased this plot of barren land several years ago in anticipation of new construction on the northern limit of Visalia. The new elementary school will be funded through $11 million in developer fees, fees paid to the district on new construction, along with $10 million in one-time funding from the State.

For more information, contact Robert Gröeber, assistant superintendent of administrative services, at 559-730-7529 or rgroeber@vusd.org.

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