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Manteca Unified OKs $4.6M for ag classrooms

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POSTED June 26, 2009 2:50 a.m.
Manteca Unified could soon welcome the District School Farm.

Trustees gave the green light to the ag-related classroom structure last Tuesday. Plans and specifications for the $4.6 million project by Heiser & Associates have already received approval by the Division of State Architect.

“Ag is not just about raising animals,” Trustee Vern Gebhardt said. “It’s also about having classrooms to help students go to (places such as) UC Davis with college prep courses.”

In order to make the plan possible, the board, agreed on the “strings attached” fundraising commitment of $347,390 repayable over a four-year span to the state. The rest of the tab is being covered by a state grant.

 A portion of the fundraiser is expected to come from the $12,500 per year lease of the district property located south of Manteca at Tinnin Road. The board also approved the agreement to Arnold Rothlin, with the rental of this property being placed into the Farm Account, from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2013.

Developer fees and state money will also help in funding the District School Farm.
But not all board members are in support of the project, particularly with the current financial crisis.

 “Even though I’m a farmer, I’m not in favor of the building,” Trustee Manuel Medeiros said. “The time is not the best for us.”

His colleague, Nancy Teicheira, whose family’s livelihood is from farming, agreed as did Weston Ranch trustee Rex Holiday.

“It’s hard for me to see us spend this money especially when money is short,” she said. “I hope it works.”

Board President Michael Seelye, who, along with Evelyn Moore, Wendy King and Gebhardt, backed the plan.

“I grew up on a farm and it gave me the values I have today,” he said.
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