FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The Fresno Teachers Union included a call to open high school parking lots to homeless families in its final proposal, according to the proposal document.
It asks Fresno Unified School District to ‘open high school parking lots to homeless families to park their car,’ and ‘provide paid security’, all-in-all, it would cost the district $500,000.
The item came on page 21 of the “last, best, and final offer” from the FTA, in the ‘Social/Emotional Supports & Safety’ section.
Alongside it, came an ask of $20 million to address student homelessness.
In a statement, FTA President Manuel Bonilla said the proposal in part, “reflects the comments and concerns raised by our members and Fresno Unified Families regarding the level of care and resources provided to our children, including those who are unhoused. We have made it clear that we do not support the use of parking lots; however, students deserve a safe space to sleep.”
Fresno City Councilmember Mike Karbassi says he disagrees with the proposal, and that it may amount to something else entirely.
“I really admire our teachers for how much they care about our kids for how much they care about our kids, and that’s what it’s about. I don’t know if this measure is the best way to keep our kids safe. What I think FTA really wants is to get the district to have a conversation on how they’re spending the state money dedicated to homeless services for kids,” said Karbassi, who represents District 2.
However, Karbassi says if FUSD and FTA were to agree to the parking lot proposal, the city would have to be involved.
“I would encourage anyone wanting to do that to talk to the city because we’re the ones that are going to have to deal with the issues that come out of that. I think our kids deserve a lot better than being stuck in a parking lot. There needs to be a bigger conversation,” said Karbassi.
Fresno Unified also issued a statement, that says in part, “While we are committed to ending homelessness, we are doing so through a realm of expertise and partnering with those whose realm of expertise is housing. We do not plan to open our parking lots as FTA is proposing.”
Homeless advocate Dez Martinez says it would be a small step, but an important one for helping families in need be safe and stay together.
“If their first thing is ‘because we care about the children’, then I need them to start showing me now. Because if they’re not going to do something as simple as open up a lot, and they can afford it with security, for these parents or these children to be able to rest, so, they can go to school with a clear mind and a full belly, why are you in that seat?” said Martinez.
It’s unclear at this time which parking lots would be affected.
FTA’s deadline for Fresno Unified School District to agree to a contract was Sept. 29.
Union workers are set to vote on whether to strike on Oct. 18.