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Funding new schools getting tougher for MUSD

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POSTED August 27, 2013 1:55 a.m.

Funding new schools in Manteca Unified may be a challenge in the not-so-distant future.

Gone are the days when general obligation, state bonds and developer fees or Community Facilities Districts – one-third each was necessary as the funding source – helped accommodate a growing school district.

 But, according to Superintendent Jason Messer, these funding sources are now difficult to pool together. Take state funds, for starters.

“Currently, the state is out of money for school construction,” he said at Friday’s MUSD board workshop.

Developer fees can vary due to the projected need, said Messer, with hopes that CFDs become more stable over time.

As for local funds, he said those may depend on the passing of bonds such as the voter-approved Measure M back in 2004.

“If we were to do another general obligation bond I just can’t see a 7-0 board approval,” Messer said during Friday’s CFD information-only workshop session.

He added: “The state has cut back on what (money) they can give to schools.”

Trustees heard recent concerns from Union Ranch folks on developing a new school there.

Messer indicated at the workshop that any new school will take time to build, between three to five years, in order to secure its share of the one-third funding necessary to apply for the state match.

“This means we would have to collect the money years before it is needed,” he said. “We could impose higher developer fees and save those monies or create CFDs to sell bonds and use that money collected in the future to pay back the bond debt.”

MUSD established Mello-Roos CFD in places such as the Weston Ranch area, for example. Funding was provided when homes were built in the new residential development, making possible a new school, renovation, or modernization plans.

 The CFD in Weston Ranch was established in 1989, and also chipped in for improvements at East Union High and the construction of Great Valley, George Komure and Weston Ranch High.

Another CFD made possible improvements, modernization or renovation to Lathrop High, East Union, Weston Ranch, Widmer, McParland and Stella Brockman schools.

And yet another CFD secured sites for Union Ranch, Rustic, and another high school south of Manteca. All three were listed under Measure M projects but towards the bottom of that list.

The workshop provided information on future growth for the new school board members such as Sam Fant and Deborah Romero.

“You can tell the Union Ranch people that their fees are the same ones as those in (south) Manteca,” Messer said.

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