Courtesy of Dyson Karby Siegrist Janzen Architects, Inc.
Plans for a 37,500-square-foot building to house University High School (UHS) got the green light from California State University trustees on March 12.
Construction on the building could start this fall and UHS students may be learning in the new classrooms as early as September 2009. It will sit where a temporary parking lot is currently located, west of the Smittcamp Alumni House and south of the Joyal Administration Building.
Once the move is complete, the small portable buildings that have housed the school since 2000 will be removed, opening up the area between the Lab School and amphitheatre. The temporary parking lot that will be displaced once construction begins will be moved to an alternate location on the southeast side of the campus.
The $15.5 million project will be funded entirely from state public school resources and the California Charter School Facilities Program, and will not come out of CSU funds.
University Highâ€™s head of school, James Bushman, Ph.D., said that moving out of the small portable classrooms will enhance the learning of students and enable faculty to plan more activities.
â€œHaving an actual building will give us a better identity and a more collective sense of self that we may be missing now,â€ Bushman said.
The school will still maintain its current student population of 400 to minimize the impact on the Fresno State campus.
UHS junior Omeid Heidari said that he thinks having the new building will alleviate congestion and tension that exists between UHS and Fresno State students.
â€œIt will keep us in a separate location away from Fresno State students and cause their complaints to die down and allow us to be less restricted during our free time,â€ Heidari said.
The new facility will have an area where students can take breaks and eat lunch, allowing them to have their own area separate from the University Student Union and Free Speech area, where many UHS students flock to for their breaks currently.
However, there are no plans to create a separate cafeteria or food establishment, only vending machines. UHS students will still be allowed in all of the restaurants and they may still opt to take their breaks anywhere on the Fresno State campus.
Fresno State senior Lindsey Gray isnâ€™t sold on the idea of moving UHS and said that she isnâ€™t sure that high school students belong anywhere on a college campus.
â€œI wonâ€™t even be here when the building is done but if I come back for my graduate degree I really donâ€™t want to see 16-year-old kids hanging out around campus,â€ Gray said. â€œBut at least there wonâ€™t be more of them than there are now.â€
Fresno State junior Chris Gonzales shares Smithâ€™s sentiments about UHS students but for different reasons.
â€œI think the campus could do without the high school students altogether but if they are going to be here itâ€™s a good thing they are moving so the portables can go,â€ Gonzales said. â€œThey are an eyesore.â€
Once the portables are moved away it will leave large, open grass areas and more room for students to gather around the amphitheatre. Fresno State senior Terri Smith said that he likes the idea of UHS moving away from the center of campus.
â€œThe amphitheatre used to be a cool area before it was surrounded with portables so it will be great to open that space back up for students,â€ Smith said.