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Does FUSD Need a Hired Gun to Help with PR for Teacher Contract Talks?



Fresno Unified is hiring an outside consultant to handle labor negotiations communications. (GV Wire Composite/David Rodriguez)
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Here’s yet another sign that the Fresno Unified-Fresno Teachers Association contract talks might not be going so well: FTA is criticizing the district’s plan to hire a “political/communications consultant” for its negotiations’ communications.

Want to check out earlier School Zone columns and other education news stories? You’ll find them at Nancy Price’s School Zone Facebook page.

Tim Orman, former chief of staff for Fresno mayors Lee Brand and Jerry Dyer, confirmed to School Zone on Wednesday that the district has tapped him for the job. It’s the first time he’s worked for the district as a consultant. He declined to say how much the district will pay him: “As a private company, I do not discuss client contracts,” he said in a text message.

Orman, a veteran political campaign consultant, clearly is going to be a busy guy. He’s also handling communications efforts for the second try at convincing Fresno County voters to pass a sales tax measure to benefit Fresno State. Signatures are now being gathered to put the revised Measure E on the March ballot.

FTA questions why the district needs to hire an outside consultant when it already spends multiple millions of dollars on its in-house communications department that so far has handled the negotiations communications duties.

Nikki Henry, who heads that department, appeared to confirm that the district is hiring a consultant but did not respond to School Zone’s queries about whether that consultant would be Orman and how much he will be paid.

As to why the district needs a consultant, Henry said in an email: “School districts regularly utilize the services of communications consultants to keep the community informed on the status of negotiations and the potential impact on students, families, and community partners. This allows the Fresno Unified Communications Department to maintain its concentration on providing key operational information to our families, staff, and community.”

No Contract Yet

The clock is ticking for the district: The start of school is about a month away, and there’s a distinct possibility that teachers will start the new school year without a contract, which hasn’t happened in recent years.

The last contract, which expired June 30, was signed before the prior contract had expired — a fact much celebrated by district officials. But that early signing might have been the exception to the rule: for the prior contract, teachers worked for more than two years without a labor deal before a new one was signed in January 2018, averting a strike.

Also in School Zone: 

  • Fresno EOC Head Start offers the first-ever Express Enrollment Fair for kids up to age 5.
  • State Center wants your input in developing State Center Vision 2035,
  • Fresno Pacific hires two new vice presidents.
  • Wonderful Company seeks grant applications.

At a rally in May, the assembled FTA members indicated their consensus support for the union to call a strike authorization vote in October if there is no contract by Sept. 29.

The contract talks hit a snag last month when the school district accused the teachers union of bad faith bargaining in an unfair labor practice complaint filed with the state’s Public Employment Relations Board. The district claimed that FTA was trying to short-circuit labor talks when it submitted its “last, best, and final offer” on the same night that the teachers rallied downtown adjacent to the School Board meeting.

FTA President Manuel Bonilla told School Zone that PERB has not yet responded to Fresno Unified’s complaint and that the union is submitting a response.

Head Start 0 to 5 Enrollment Fair Set for Saturday

Parents who want to learn more about the Fresno EOC Head Start programs are invited to an Express Enrollment Fair on Saturday at the Franklin Head Start, 1189 Martin St., in Fresno.

The first-ever event, which will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., will give parents the opportunity to learn more about the early education opportunities and services provided through the Head Start program. Head Start services include speech and language, health and physical, vision and hearing, and learning and other disabilities.

With sites across Fresno County, children can be enrolled in the center nearest to home. Head Start also provides home-based services.

Parents also will be able to enroll their children at the event, which will include several STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics) activities for little kids and their families to participate in together.

To enroll their children, parents should bring proof of annual income, such as a 1040, W-2, CalWORKS, or other approved documentation, proof of age (birth certificate or other approved documentation), and immunization records.

To start the enrollment process online, go to To learn more ab9ut Head Start 0 to 5, go to

State Center Seeks Your Help to Plan for the Future

Do you want to have a say in how State Center Community College District plans for the future? The district is holding a series of “listening sessions” starting next week at campus locations and the district office that will be interactive.

The public input will be incorporated into the district’s long-term plan, State Center Vision 2035.

The sessions will be at the following times and locations:

  • Monday, July 17, 4-6 p.m., Reedley Community College, Room MSCI-111
  • Tuesday, July 18, 4-6 p.m., Madera Community College, Room TM-11
  • Wednesday, July 19, 4 to 6 p.m., Clovis Community College, AC-1 Open Computer Lab
  • Thursday, July 20, 4 to 6 p.m., Staff Dining Room (located in the cafeteria)
  • Tuesday, July 25, 4 to 6 p.m., District Office boardroom, 1171 Fulton St., Fresno.

Snacks and refreshments will be served at the July 19 session at Clovis Community College. For planning purposes, RSVP here.

You can also participate in the SCCCD 2035 Vision Community Survey at

Fresno Pacific’s New VPs Focus on Fundraising, Enrollment

Liz Garvin

Two new faces have joined the Fresno Pacific University leadership team. Liz Garvin, a longtime fundraiser for public education agencies in Fresno, and Brad Camilleri, who has lengthy experience in enrollment marketing, will start their new jobs as vice presidents in August.

“Both Liz and Brad couple deep knowledge and experience in their respective areas of expertise with new ideas for the future,” college president Dr. André Stephens said in a news release. “I am excited to work with them to chart the future of our university through these challenging yet exciting times as we find new ways to support and advocate for our students.”

Brad Camilleri

Garvin, the new vice president of advancement, was a manager/fundraiser for Fresno Unified and the district’s Foundation for Fresno Unified Schools. She previously worked as senior director of planned and foundation giving at Fresno State.

Camilleri, the new vice president of enrollment management, comes to Fresno from Biola University, where he worked as director of marketing strategy and client services. He previously worked at Biola as director of admissions marketing, data management and research, and associate director of undergraduate admissions.

Wonderful Company Seeks Applicants for $1M in Grants

The Wonderful Company is once again seeking applications from Central Valley nonprofits and schools for a share of $1 million in grants through the Wonderful Community program.

Over the past eight years, The Wonderful Company and co-0wners Lynda and Stewart Resnick have awarded more than $6 million through their foundation to more than 77 nonprofits and 165 schools in the San Joaquin Valley. The grants are designed to benefit local programs that focus on health and wellness, recreation, community beautification, art, and social services,

The company’s philanthropy team is holding virtual information sessions on July 26 from 2 to 3 p.m. (RSVP here) and on Aug. 3 from 10 to 11 a.m. (RSVP here). Visit for more information and to sign up for a session.

All applications must be received by midnight Aug. 31 for consideration. The grant recipients will be announced in October.

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email