Documenter: Heather Halsey Martinez

Here’s what you need to know

  • The Clovis Unified School District governing board and Clovis City Council held a joint meeting to discuss: the Terry Bradley Educational Center, dress code, later school start time, developer fees, city growth projections and state vaccine requirements. 

  • Discussing the school vaccine requirement, both city council members and school board members, referred to the student vaccine requirement as potentially being “the hill they are going to die on.” Whether or not there will be exemptions to the requirements, played a role for some. O’Farrell said 62% of employees are vaccinated and those who are not are required to be tested weekly starting Oct. 15. Once students age 12 to 18 are required to be vaccinated, the testing option for staff will be removed and they will be required to be vaccinated.

  • In 2020-2021, 1,151 single family home permits were issued, which Planning and Development Services Director Renee Mathis said they haven’t seen since the early 2000s. She said 2021 has been slower, due to a scarcity of resources & materials, but they expect to meet the average of 800 permits. 

  • The city is starting the process to update its General Plan from 2014. It is preparing to bring a firm on board to help determine the scope of the update and estimates it will take two to three years to complete. The city is also preparing to incorporate findings from the Regional Housing Needs Assessment, which shows the region needs 63,000 units. Preliminary estimates show Clovis being allotted 9,100 units that it will need to account for in the housing element by Dec. 2023.

  • The impact of Accessory Dwelling Units, cottage homes and Senate Bill 9 on development fees was broached. CUSD and city staff said they would need to continue discussions in the future to determine what impact it would have on CUSD, but didn’t think it would have a large impact in the near future.

The Scene

The joint Clovis Unified School District (CUSD) Governing Board and Clovis City Council meeting took place on Oct. 11, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. The meeting was made available via Webex and YouTube Live. The agenda no longer states that face masks are required for those who attend in person due to COVID-19 and none of the council members wore face masks. 

Ashbeck mentioned at the prior meeting that she would be absent. All other council members and CUSD board members, except Hatmaker, were in council chambers. They sat around tables put together to make a larger rectangular table. 

Names of officials:

Jose Flores, Mayor (also Chief of Police, State Center Community College District Police Department)

Lynne Ashbeck, Mayor Pro Tem (also Senior Vice President Community Engagement and Population Wellness, Valley Children’s Healthcare)

Vong Mouanoutoua, Council Member (also External Relations and Project Development Director, Community Medical Foundation)

Bob Whalen, Council Member (also Fresno County Deputy District Attorney)

Drew Bessinger, Council Member (also Chief of Police, Fresno Yosemite International Airport)


Dr. Eimear O’Farrell, CUSD Superintendent

Dr. Steven G. Fogg, CUSD Board President 

Hugh Awtrey, Board Member

David DeFrank, Board Member

Susan Hatmaker, Board Member

Yolanda Moore, Board Member

Elizabeth “Betsy” Sandoval, Board Member

Tiffany Stoker Madsen, Board Member

Fogg led the council in the Pledge of Allegiance. The council members and board members then all introduced themselves and said how long they’ve served. 

From there, the meeting was open for public comments:

  • Josh Fulfer was in council chambers and said he thought CUSD was “blindly” accepting what Newsom mandates. “We are turning into Fresno when it comes to the school district,” he said. “It’s not the same thing that you would’ve seen 15 years ago.” He offered his phone number to the council if they want to meet with him and other parents. 

  • A woman was in council chambers and asked the school board members if they have read the constitution. She said she has asked questions at previous school board meetings and was ignored. She questioned why they were sitting without masks when they are required at schools. 

  • A man was in council chambers and thanked the school board for listening to the science and the governor regarding masking and vaccines. He said he received four notifications from Alta Sierra notifying him that his daughter was exposed to Covid.

  • A woman was in council chambers and asked if they could make a statement against requiring vaccines for children. Flores said she had to return once it is discussed on the agenda. 

  • One written comment was received from Rogelio Madrigal. 

Clovis Unified Governing Board presentations

  • Update on Terry Bradley Educational Center presented by Michael Johnson, associate superintendent of administrative services. 

    • In 2009, the name Terry Bradley was selected. 

    • Will be located between Leonard and Highland Avenues near McKinley Avenue.

    • Still working on the design and concept. 

    • Includes a snack bar and multipurpose room to serve both the middle and high schools. 

    • Will have a pool, football and track lined up to share bleacher space. 

    • Student activity center will be available for larger community events. 

    • July 2023 off site construction will begin, then middle school will be completed in Aug. 2025. 

    • High school will open in Aug. 2027. 

    • Whalen asked what schools would be impacted. Johnson said they will do a boundary study to determine what students will be moved, including those from Clovis East and Clovis High. 

    • Mouanoutoua asked about the funding. Johnson said it is funded all by the most recent bond and through state funding. 

      • He also asked about the elementary school and Johnson said they do not have it planned yet. But it will either be on Fowler and McKinley Avenues or Minnewawa and Perrin Avenues or International and Minnewawa Avenues. It will be based on where it is needed most. 

      • He also asked what the plans are for the surrounding area, which is in Fresno. Johnson said to the left of Leonard Ave. it is a ponding basin. 

      • Mouanoutoua asked the school board how they will “protect that name” in the event 20 years from now it’s decided that they don’t like the name. 

        • Flores said he went to Luther Wells school and loves that the name is still there because “they haven’t canceled Mr. Wells.” 

    • Madsen asked about the placement of the gym. 

    • Johnson said they had parking and traffic flow in mind with the design. 

    • Mouanoutoua said he is glad that CUSD continues to update schools and keep them looking good. 

    • Fogg says that they are trying to move as few kids as possible. “We don’t want to move kids from schools…we try to avoid that at all costs,” he said. 

      • He went on to say that they try to name schools after people that “inspire us.” But he said that there is the risk with naming schools after people because there are “no perfect humans.” 

      • He said they have open gates to every school so that the surrounding neighbors can use the fields and facilities. “We encourage our community to use our schools,” he said. 

    • A public comment from Sean Soares was noted. But it was said that they were having technical difficulties and they would work with him so he could provide additional comments. 

  • Discussion on developer fees for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and cottage homes by Denver Stairs, assistant superintendent of facility services. 

    • Stairs said there are two types of boundary changes: One comes from a new school and the other is due to new growth. 

    • He said that they are not charging developer fees unless they are lumped in with the total square footage of a new home. 

    • He said they are starting to see more ADUs/cottage homes and would like to open up a conversation to plan for it in the future. 

  • Discussion on Senate Bill 9 as it pertains to housing development and approvals by Stairs. 

    • Stairs asked the city council what the impact will be on development. 

    • Whalen thanked him for raising these issues because there will be some unknown impacts. 

      • He asked city staff if and when they would get some information. A staff member said they do have some preliminary information and research to share. She said there were approximately 1,200 parcels that could qualify for SB 9, which could result in 2,000 units. 

    • Renee Mathis, planning and development services director, said they passed out a hand out about SB 9 titled, “The end of single family zoning.” She explained it as allowing four homes on a lot that was formerly only zoned for a single home. 

    • Flores said this is an example of how, “the city has lost local control.” 

    • City staff member Mike said fees aren’t charged for ADUs or cottage homes. “With regards to SB 9…we are embarking on a more indepth fee analysis later this year,” he said. H

      • He said he doesn’t expect this development to happen quickly so they have some time to plan. 

    • Whalen asked if developers were now rethinking building plans for single family developments. Mathis said she has heard from Gary McDonald who has shown some interest, but doesn’t know if he will act on it. 

      • Whalen asked if the person doing the development has to live on the lot for some time. Mathis said for lot splits the applicant does have to submit an affidavit that they intend to occupy the residence for three years. 

    • Mouanoutoua said that they have been “on top of this” because they knew residents would have no recourse once it passed. He said they opposed it with the League of California Cities. 

    • Flores said they do encourage some development like the Cottage Home program they created, but this is “Sacramento telling us what to do.” 

  • Update on the dress code review by O’Farrell. 

    • She said the purpose of the dress code was to keep the focus on learning. 

    • She said the interschool council has made recommendations around gender equity. It is made up of six students from each high school. 

      • At that time, they made changes to the dress code pertaining to hair and shoulder straps. 

    • She said they have received “overwhelming parental support” on the SART survey. Last year 66% of parents said they would like the dress code to remain the same or be more strict. 

    • Again, Fulfer, made a public comment saying the dress code was another way they were becoming “more like Fresno.” He said he’s been a lifelong resident of Clovis and the dress code is one of the reasons why he bought a home in Clovis. He mentioned uniforms as an option. 

    • Sean Soares made a comment online. He said he graduated from Clovis West High School and taught for several years. He said that he doesn’t think it is the dress code rules, but the students were concerned that they weren’t being heard. “The dress code led them to be objectified in the schools and the issues they were having was not being addressed by the administration,” Soares said. 

  • Update on proposed later school start times for the 2022-23 school year by Dr. Corrine Folmer, associate superintendent of school leadership. 

    • SB 328 requires secondary schools to move start times to 8:00 and 8:30 a.m.

    • She said it will have a broader impact on the community as a whole. 

    • She said they will try to make operational adjustments and make recreational adjustments that allow accessibility for all students. 

    • Bessinger said that the Clovis Transit is free now so they could possibly partner with the district to provide that for some students. 

    • Whalen asked about Campus Club before school starts. Folmer said that it will depend on each individual school site. She said they anticipate needing it more in the afternoons when schools get out earlier. 

    • Whalen asked if there’s been a CEQA challenge to the bill yet or if it is exempt from that challenge. CUSD staff said they aren’t aware of any challenges. 

    • A public comment was made saying that this was a challenge for those who do outdoor and agricultural work. She said she’s had to drop her kids off early as it is at a park adjacent to a school. 

  • Update on other school challenges from Norm Anderson, deputy superintendent. 

    • “Some things happen with us and some things happen to us,” Anderson said. 

    • Anderson said there is a “huge shortage of staffing in the district.” He said they are short on subs, food service workers and bus drivers. 

    • He asked how do we as a state approve those who want to work as substitute teachers to get approved quicker. 

    • He said they all anticipated learning loss and that’s one of their challenges. “I don’t know if we anticipated the social-emotional and behavioral issues we’ve seen from students being at home for so long,” Anderson said.

    • Soares asked, “Why is the fear of Covid greater than the fear that I have for my children?” He said his daughters are attending Clovis Online and can’t play volleyball because he chose for them not to wear masks. 

      • Soares said they may not even need a new school if they implement the vaccine mandate and people choose not to send their kids. 

      • He said they are creating division among teachers and parents in the schools. 

      • Flores attempted to step in when his five minutes was up and Soares said his time wasn’t up because he timed it. 

    • Fogg said that California is a big state and “we’re different in Clovis Unified.” “The most challenging thing has been being told how to run a school district,” Fogg said. 

    • Flores said they always “fight for local control.” He said they used to meet with CUSD quarterly and that he thinks they accomplish a lot when they meet together. 

City of Clovis presentations

  • Update on city growth projections and development by Renee Mathis, planning and development services director.

    • Mathis presented information from the 2014 Clovis General Plan, which plans for growth in three urban centers-Loma Vista, Heritage Grove and the Northeast area. She said all urban centers will include approximately 30,000 people and 10,000 rooftops.

    • She provided updates on the following areas:

      • Building permit activity-

        • In 2020-2021, more than 1,100 single family home permits were issued, which they haven’t seen since the early 2000s. She said 2021 has been slower and they are hearing from the development community that resources and materials are scarce from developers. 

        • Mathis said they believe they will end the fiscal year at the average of 800 permits. 

      • Proposed developments in the city-

        • Current population is 120,000 in 24 square miles. 

        • Loma Vista is 68% built out with over 5,000 existing rooftops. 

          • The Loma Vista commercial marketplace, fire station 6 scheduled to be complete by Feb. 2022, village green seven-acre park is under design and a 300-acre master planned community called, Home Place, is currently under environmental review, in additional to a 250-unit apartment complex on Ashlan East of Leonard

        • Heritage Grove is 2,500 acres. Should see 300 more rooftops in that area. 

          • Heritage Development Co. specific plan will cover approximately 900 acres including mixed use development. EIR is beginning and will take at least 15 months to complete. 

          • Interest from a developer in building medium density homes. 

          • City has received entitlements for a 255 mixed-use development near Enzo’s Table on Willow Ave. She said full build out will take 24 to 36 months. 

          • Fogg asked about covering canals due to safety concerns. Whalen said he was an advocate for keeping them open so they can have trails that run along them as an amenity. 

        • Northeast Urban Center is 1,000 acres. 

          • Whalen pointed out that there will be development there, which will be about 33% residential development, 33% open space and 33% industrial development. 

          • Madsen asked how many rooftops there will be. Mathis said approximately 10,000 rooftops will be located there. 

          • 300 acres of residential will be developed in the first 1,000 acres of land that is brought in the city’s sphere of influence. 

          • Mathis said they have been meeting for the last year with developers about the Northeast area and they still have at least 2.5 years of work before the entitlement process begins. 

          • Whalen said they may receive push back from the council or community because they may want to see more build out in the Heritage Grove area before development in this area begins.

          • Mouanoutoua told the school board members that, “they come because of you and they stay because of us.” 

        • Landmark Square is a five-acre site under construction for the senior center and transit activity hub. It is 25% developed. 

          • Future home of the library also. 

          • Whalen said the other library will be closed, which could impact students who come over after school from Clark. So students will be traveling to the new library and crossing the streets to do so. 

        • California Health Sciences University has come before the council requesting housing for staff and students. 

          • She said there are 70 acres earmarked, 20 acres for student housing and 50 acres for faculty housing. 

      • Important planning updates-

        • 2014 General Plan update-preparing RFP to bring a firm on board to help them audit what the scope of the update should be. 

          • Anticipate two to three years to complete the update once the firm is on board. 

        • Regional Housing Needs Assessment/Housing Element

          • She said the region needs 63,000 units in the Fresno/Clovis area. 

          • Preliminary estimates for Clovis could get approximately 9,100 units that they would need to accommodate in their housing element. 

          • Must be complete by Dec. 2023. 

        • SB9 goes into effect in Jan. 2022. 

          • Must accommodate lot splits meeting the state’s criteria. 

      • Significant road closures-

        • Shaw Ave. from DeWolf to McCall Ave. 

        • Nees from Clovis to Minnewawa Ave. 

        • Herndon Ave. from Temperance to DeWolf Ave. 

        • Barstow Ave. from Minnewawa to Clovis Ave. 

        • Armstrong from Tollhouse to Sierra Ave. 

        • Villa and Minnewawa Ave. widening

        • Nees and Armstrong traffic signal

        • Sunnyside from Nees to Teague Ave. will open Nov. 2021

        • Fowler from Teague to Shepherd intermittent closure

        • Leonard from Gettysburg to Loma Vista Park partial closure from Oct to Nov. 2021

        • Gettysburg from DeWolf to Leonard Ave. 

  • Update on City Community Investment Program by Mathis. 

  • Discussion on “building community consensus regarding vaccines” by Flores. 

    • Flores said he was the one that asked to add this item to the agenda. 

    • O’Farrell took the podium, she said that by Oct. 15 every school district has to have a system in place for employees to provide verification of vaccination or will participate in routine testing. She said 62% of employees have indicated that they are vaccinated. The other 38% will have to be tested weekly via nasal swab or saliva test. 

      • She said there is a shortage of the antigen tests statewide, but they do have an inventory of the tests, which they are prioritizing for asymptomatic students to keep them in class and staff to continue working. Then they will be testing volunteers, but she said students and teachers were priority. 

      • More recently, students from the ages of 12 to 18 will be required to be vaccinated at the beginning of the following semester after the vaccine receives full FDA approval. At that time, the testing option for staff would be removed and all staff would be required to be vaccinated. 

      • Flores asked if the state provided additional funds for the testing. O’Farrell said they do have the funding and the school board approved a Covid assistant at every school site, but they have not been able to fill the position at every school site. 

      • She said they also have concerns from families and staff on all sides of the vaccine mandate. 

      • Fogg said, “This pandemic has killed a lot of people…but not the 20,000 that they once predicted.” He said they are watching the numbers closely in Clovis Unified and if they can bring the numbers down where they are insignificant. “I believe one of the things that we can do as a community is to make sure our adults are vaccinated,” he said. 

        • He asked if the city council looks at the vaccination rates in the city. He said some areas are as high as 80%, while others are around 50%.

        • He said he doesn’t think it’s the school district’s job to educate the community on vaccines, but possibly that’s where the city could step in. 

        • “There are areas in Clovis that should have higher vaccination rates and I’m just wondering if you’ve addressed that?” said Fogg.

    • Flores said that it’s run by the county and they haven’t done a good job of spreading information to the public. He said the last report is from Oct. 1. 

      • “I know people in Clovis who have died from Covid, good friends,” he said. “They were over 60, they were male, they were Hispanic, they were a little fluffy and had some co-morbidities and guess what, I resemble that,” Flores said. 

      • He said “there was a person who I believed in” that delivered vaccines at “warp speed.” “He used modern technology to come with two very good vaccines and they work wonders,” Flores said.

      • “I don’t believed it’s the duty of a city, a county, a state or even the federal government to mandate that a very healthy person do it,” he said.

      • “Something that government doesn’t do well is nuance, this is a very nuanced disease,” he said. 

      • “The reason the City of Clovis has a better vaccination rate than anybody in Fresno County, is because we get it,” he said.

      • “If you’re 22, healthier than an ox, why would you,” he said. 

      • He said his immunity would be 27 times higher if he was healthy and got Covid than someone that received the Pfizer vaccine. 

      • He said he was a virality major at Fresno State and he learned about natural immunity. 

      • Flores said one child has died from Covid in Fresno County and 600 total in the United States.

        • “Our children from 0-20 almost have natural immunity to it,” he said. 

        • “I say it’s almost like child abuse, it’s like forcing a preschooler to wear a mask for the three to four hours they are in class, children don’t do that,” Flores said. 

    • Fogg asked what percentage of city employees were vaccinated. Luke Serpa said they have 550 full-time employees and that 50 to 60% of employees are vaccinated. 

      • Fogg said that Clovis is actually doing pretty well and asked if there is anything they can do to educate the community further. 

      • Whalen shared a map showing the vaccine rate of the Clovis zip codes. 

    • DeFrank said the vaccine mandate is qualitatively different than the other mandates discussed during the meeting.  “This intrudes on the relationship between a parent and a child,” he said. 

    • Bessinger said the City of Clovis worked closely with United Health Centers on drive-through testing centers and education. “The problem we’re running into is that elections matter, I have no hope that we’re not going to get draconian stuff out of Sacramento,” he said. “What about people that have had Covid and survived and now they can’t get vaccinated or whatever?” 

      • He said that he has two granddaughters that he’s leaving it up to their parents, but that if they decide not to be vaccinated he will help them be homeschooled or whatever they have to do.

      • “There’s gotta be a tipping point and we’re approaching it very fast right now,” Bessinger said. 

    • Madsen said she wasn’t anti-vaccine, but that she is anti-mandate for her children. She said if they can share enough numbers and enough data on the mortality rate compared to driving or swimming, “than people can start to make better educated decisions for themselves about the virus.” 

      • She said they represent 30,000 families and 6,000 employees. She said some are still very afraid of Covid and until they can have their fears alleviated, this will continue to be an issue. 

      • Flores said the vaccines work and those people should get the vaccine. “They are some of the best vaccines that humanity has ever come up with, they do work,” he said. 

    • Mouanoutoua said that community college isn’t mandated and individual boards can decide for themselves. 

      • He asked what the consequences would be if CUSD doesn’t follow the vaccine mandate. 

      • DeFrank said part of the difficulty is that they don’t know how the state would respond, but one of their options would be to obtain an injunction against the school district and have a court order requiring it. 

    • DeFrank said that they don’t actually have the mandate yet and are going by a press conference at this point. He said there could be a personal belief exemption, which would make it less of a mandate. 

    • Fulfer provided a public comment and said he is on day 574 of “15 days to slow the spread.” 

    • A Regional Field Representative for Turning Point USA was in council chambers to speak against the vaccine requirement. 

    • A public comment was made by a former student against critical race theory. She also spoke against the CUSD board stopping the live streaming of board meetings. She said she is pro-vaccine and pro-choice. She said she has a ten-year-old brother that her parents will take out of school if he is required to be vaccinated. 

    • A woman made a public comment regarding Covid funding and equated it to the state paying them to implement the mandates. She spoke about immigrants coming to the country being trafficked and coming for “freedom.” 

    • A man named Joe was in council chambers. He spoke against vaccines. 

    • A woman was in council chambers and spoke against vaccines. 

    • Another woman was in council chambers. She said she worked for a pharmaceutical company. She said she and her whole family have had Covid and they don’t wear masks. She said Clovis is a way of life and “if you don’t agree with that, you’re probably living in the wrong place.” 

    • A man named Bill said he was an ex-resident of Clovis. He read from a piece of paper against vaccines. “Be on the right side of history instead of following the dollars,” he said. 

    • A woman named Kim said her daughter spoke earlier to the district. She said she wants the school board to not implement the vaccine requirement and she will not send her 10-year-old son back to school if it is implemented. 

Flores opened the meeting for comments by City Manager Luke Serpa and Superintendent O’Farrell. Serpa said it is good for the two governing boards to get together. O’Farrell said that she is proud to serve with the CUSD team and governing board because one thing they all have in common is that they care deeply about the students and want to do the right thing. 

Flores then opened the meeting for council/board comments:

  • Bessinger thanked everyone for coming and said that in his house, he’s a “flaming liberal” right now. 

  • Mouanoutoua said it’s a blessing to be in America because they can discuss and disagree. But in looking at the city, “we are pretty blessed” because they don’t all have to agree. He referred to Clovis as “the last bastion of hope” for some, saying “they come to Clovis and then if they can’t get it here, they move out of state.”

  • Whalen said they now have a deeper appreciation of what the school board is experiencing. He said he is excited for the Terry Bradley Educational Center and that they continue to improve with each new school.

    • Regarding vaccines, Whalen said, “I think we would all agree that consensus is not going to be built if it’s mandated.” “I think our consensus is that vaccines are good and yet vaccines should not be mandated,” he said. “I think the area where we don’t really have a consensus is where we don’t really know what the next six months or longer are going to bring is whether is going to be the hill we’re willing to die on.” He went on to say that he thinks they will be in the same boat as the school district soon, referring to requiring vaccines for city employees.

  • DeFrank said they have not decided what their response has been to the vaccine mandate yet because they need to see what kind of exemptions will be available first. He said there is a consensus against the state mandate and that he didn’t hear a single word for the mandate at the table. 

  • Sandoval said she thinks the vaccine mandate is “crazy,” but they will get through this. 

  • Madsen said that they are doing the best that they know how in uncharted territory without a manual. She said that they have been accused of not being consistent, but she said it’s because they’ve received information from the state late in the week or after they’ve said things to the public. 

  • Awtrey said they appreciate their support in pushing back on Sacramento, but that they need more information on the vaccine requirement. “If we’re going to fight something we’ve got to know what we’re fighting,” he said. 

  • Fogg said that the school board and city council are “pretty united on trying to do the right thing on giving (parents) the option of doing what’s best for their children.” 

  • Flores said this is a test of “almost biblical proportions” and that they need prayer. He said he thinks that the vaccines do work and help, but it should “only be for the right people” and should not be mandated by the government. 

    • “If you need it, please take it, because it’s your life and they do work,” he said. “It’s not experimental anymore when millions and millions and millions people have taken it and nothing’s happened,” Flores said.  

The meeting adjourned at 10:20 p.m. The next meetings will be Oct. 18 and Nov. 1, 8 and 15. 

If you believe anything in these notes is inaccurate, please email us at with “Correction Request” in the subject line.

Support our nonprofit journalism.


Your contribution is appreciated.