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Manteca RDA ponders community uses
Lindbergh School is located in Central Manteca just a few blocks northeast of downtown. - photo by RYAN BALBUENA

It’s a perfect fit for a Manteca Redevelopment Agency undertaking - a functional building of historical significance that can be saved from being vacant at the same time bolstering community revitalization.

That’s how City Manager Steve Pinkerton views negotiations now under way with the Manteca Unified School District to lease the Lindbergh School campus in the 300 block of East North Street for community use.

The preferred use is as a possible satellite campus for California State University at Stanislaus to provide post secondary education opportunities in Manteca in a bid to improve the education level of the workforce which in turn would help bolster economic development. An educated workforce is viewed as a key to draw better paying jobs to the community.

Manteca Economic Development Specialist Don Smail has been in talks with CSUS officials about possibly leasing the Lindbergh School for a satellite campus.

If that fails to materialize, Pinkerton said there are a variety of ways Lindbergh School could be used as an asset for the community. Among them is possible use as a community center complete with recreation classes. The school has a large auditorium space and classrooms conducive to such uses.

It would cost Manteca in excess of $10 million to acquire land and construct a significantly smaller building for such use.

“It’s a beautiful historical building that is an asset to the community,” Pinkerton said, adding that keeping it in use would avoid it from falling into disrepair

The fact the campus is centrally located in Manteca is another plus.

Pinkerton noted that without a redevelopment agency Manteca wouldn’t be in a position to potentially lease the Lindbergh School for community uses.

The school district would have difficulty selling the land as it can’t ever be converted into housing based on deed restrictions. At the same time, any business use would be in conflict with the surrounding neighborhood. The only non-conflicting option is for a charter or private schools to lease the site.

“It’s a real win-win situation,” Pinkerton said.

The Manteca Unified School board on Tuesday instructed District Superintendent Jason Messer to make sure any lease included language that would assure the leasing of the old Lindbergh building would be done in a manner that would “prevent charter schools from securing those buildings.” State law allows unused school campuses to be taken from school districts for use as a charter school.

The school board also said the lease negotiations are` predicated on the proviso that the contracted amount determined by the district would be in exchange for the city’s “continued funding and support for the current level of SROs (Student Resource Officers).”

The Manteca Police Department provides police presence on school campuses. The district has helped cover the tab although the largest chunk of the $250,000 plus annual cost has been paid by the city.

Pinkerton noted the final call on whether to proceed with the lease is up to the City Council that doubles as the Manteca Redevelopment Agency commission. The goal is to move as quickly a possible to bring a lease to the council for consideration.