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REALIGNING ATTENDANCE AREAS

MUSD is looking at Veritas, Nile Garden, Lincoln & Cowell

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REALIGNING ATTENDANCE AREAS

Veritas School — with a design capacity of 860 students — would have 1,362 students by 2021 if attendance boundaries aren’t adjusted.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin/


POSTED September 21, 2017 1:41 a.m.

The first Manteca families to feel the impact of new student growth are those who have children currently attending Lincoln, Veritas, Nile Garden and possibly Joshua Cowell elementary schools.
Attendance boundaries for students south of the 120 Bypass will need to be adjusted to accommodate the lion’s share of an additional 950 elementary students expected by 2021 that the Manteca Unified School District anticipates will be generated from new housing.
Whatever changes may take place, the board has directed staff to initiate discussions with the community nine months prior to a decision being made to provide maximum input.
In all likelihood, any solution will include a continuation of the district’s current policy of grandfathering existing students and their younger under-age siblings to the elementary school they are currently attending. Such an option, though, would require parents to provide their own transportation.
Families in the Mission Ridge neighborhood just north of the 120 Bypass between Union Road and Main Street, as an example, were grandfathered into Nile Garden School when the last surge of growth hit Manteca starting in 1999. Families who had students attending Nile Garden were allowed to opt out of attending the new campus they were assigned to — Sequoia School — and continue attending Nile Garden as long as they provided their own transportation. The policy also meant younger siblings of such students who were not of school age yet could enroll at Nile Garden as well when the time came.
Today, there are few families still taking advantage of being grandfathered into as most students have gone onto high school or have graduated out of the Manteca Unified system. When Mission Ridge Drive area homes are sold or rented to someone else, the children of new families are sent to Sequoia School.
Unlike in Lathrop where the new housing is essentially being built in close proximity to where the school board has decided to build primary classrooms for the first phase of the Ethel Allen campus, campuses in Manteca where capacity exists or will be added are not near elementary schools that have space.
If attendance areas are left intact, Veritas School with a capacity of 860 will have 1,362 students by 2021. Among the current areas sending students to Veritas are the Juniper Apartments on Atherton Drive east of Van Ryn Avenue. The complex is actually closer to Woodward School but at the time the apartments were completed Woodward was near capacity and Veritas wasn’t.
Nile Garden currently is taking students from a wide swath of area south of the 120 Bypass. Even without the additional classrooms the board has authorized to be built at Nile Garden within the next three years, the district’s southernmost elementary campus currently has room for more students.
That is also the case with Joshua Cowell School on Pestana Avenue in east Manteca.
District Superintendent Jason Messer noted that while capacity is being added at Lincoln School over the next three years, it may not come online soon enough to house students generated from new developments. That is where Joshua Cowell could come in play.
It is against that backdrop that the district will address short and long term attendance boundary solutions, working to make sure as many of the short term options that are pursued would blend as seamless as possible into the more long-term solution.
They also will be dealing with the issue of three major “barriers” — the 120 Bypass and Union Pacific Railroad tracks when it comes to sending students from south of the Bypass to Lincoln School — and Highway 99 (plus the railroad tracks) that would come into play if Cowell is pursued as an option.
Messer noted existing district policy requires major roads and such be taken into consideration in the decision making process for attendance boundary changes but it doesn’t require that they ultimately dictate the working solution.
The district should be able to be more on the mark than with previous attendance boundary adjustments thanks to the consulting firm they contracted with that delivered the district a program that Manteca Unified staff can run computer models based on pinpointed household data and new construction.
“We also have a planner that most districts don’t have,” Messer said.
The combination of the planner and computer modeling will allow the district more flexibility by providing numerous scenarios when it comes to attendance area reconfigurations.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com

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