The math is no longer adding up.
Developer fees + other local funding sources such as Mello-Roos taxes, general obligation bond and/or mitigated agreements with developers + state bond money = schools to house new students generated by growth.
It takes Manteca Unified School District $35,000 per housing unit to provide educational facilities. The equation above — once the right numbers are plugged in — has been building schools to accommodate growth for more than 25 years in Manteca with the cost split three ways.
The lack of a Mello-Roos tax on upwards of 1,000 plus homes approved in Manteca over the past eight years that are now being built or are moving forward means the district is facing a serious shortfall with the second leg of the equation. It also isn’t helping that state bond money — when it does become available — is now covering about a quarter of the cost instead of a third as it has done in the past.
To illustrate how big of a deal the pending shortfall is, just one development proposed in south Manteca — Griffin Park — will add 1,571 new homes. According to MUSD Senior Director of Business Services Jacqui Breitenbucher those homes will generate 755 elementary students — enough to fill a K-8 school — and 350 high school students or enough to fill more than a fifth of an existing district comprehensive high school.
It will cost the district at least $54.9 million to build the school facilities needed to take care of just that one development. As it stands now the lack of Mello-Roos taxes, mitigated development agreements or another bond issue is creating a shortfall of at least $18.3 million.
And since Manteca Unified like all other public schools in California are legally obligated to sere new students and have no authority to stop development, it means existing schools and students will share in the pain.
Currently the district has funds from development fees and other sources to build one of two elementary school sites south of the 120 Bypass. MUSD Superintendent Jason Messer expects ground to break on a new campus within five years. But here’s the rub: Based on what has been approved by the city in terms of housing projects plus what is moving through the process it won’t provide nearly enough capacity even without Griffin Park tossed into the mix.
Breitenbucher told the Manteca City Council Tuesday that among schools south of the 120 Bypass Woodward School is at capacity and Veritas is at 70 percent capacity. The next closest overflow school — Sequoia — is impacted like Woodward. That leaves Brock Elliott as the next closest school with some capacity.
That opens the door for the real possibility some elementary schools would have to go to year round even before the next school is built or after it is completed.
“This isn’t an overnight thing,” Messer said. “The big impacts are in the future.”
But, as he noted, if it isn’t addressed now by getting the city school district, and developers together to devise and implement a solution it will have major consequences on everything from the ability of the city to keep growing to cover its costs, developers to keep building to sell homes, and Manteca schools being able to house students without resorting to year round school or drastic measures such as double sessions.
Messer noted of the three entities involved the district benefits the most from stability which means no growth.
It is why city and school leaders this week resumed 2x2 meetings— so called because two members of each elected board gather to discuss issues.
It was basically an overview of issues and what needs to be addressed in the coming months. It touched on how growth impacts the city, schools, and developers and funding sources. It also noted questions that need to be answered are the size of future schools, the type of schools, and the calendar that they will operate on as they all impact of how much money is needed to build them.
Based on Manteca’s existing schools, it can cost $25 million to $30 million to build an elementary school and in excess of $130 million to build a high school.