Delta College trustees are on the verge of breaking a promise to allow “more students access to an affordable education” in the Manteca-Lathrop area that they made to district voters in March of 2004 to secure passage of the $250 million Measure L bond.
The promise included expanding classrooms for general education at the Delta College school farm site north of Lathrop Road facing the Highway 99 Frontage Road as well as relocating the viticulture program to the Manteca location. There are already two classrooms in Manteca that were used for a number of years for general education classes available at night.
Now District Superintendent/President Kathy Hart is pushing to sell the school farm in Manteca and use the proceeds to relocate it to the Liberty Road property near Galt to jumpstart another promise made in the 2004 bond election to establish a Galt/Lodi education center. The same ballot also called for establishment of the Mountain House education center, which has occurred. The measure also promised an education center in the Mother Mode Country.
Delta trustee Cathy Mathis — who represents Manteca — sees it a double whammy. Not only is the school farm being shifted from a more central location for San Joaquin’s No. 1 employer — agriculture — but it also leaves the fastest growing area in the district without close access to post-secondary education.
“It’s not cast in stone yet,” said Mathis who is hoping to gain community support to stop what she believes is a major blunder when it comes to long-range planning for Delta College.
Not only was Manteca the fastest growing area in the Delta College district throughout the Great Recession, but more homes were built in the city than in all of the rest of the Northern San Joaquin Valley counties of San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Merced combined for five straight years. In 2015, Manteca slipped to the No. 2 spot for growth in the 209 region behind neighboring Lathrop which is less than 10 minutes from the Manteca campus.
Manteca has more than 9,000 homes approved that have identified water and sewer service while Lathrop has 11,000 such homes moving forward primarily through River Islands at Lathrop, that will be the largest planned community ever built in the San Joaquin Valley. The two cities currently have just under 100,000 residents within their city limits with another 30,000 residents within 15 minutes in the surrounding countryside as well as the cities of Ripon and Escalon.
There are over 90,000 residents within the Delta College boundaries within 15 minutes of the Liberty Road site including Lodi and Galt. Neither city is situated for growth in the same manner as Manteca and Lathrop.
Carlos Huerta, who is seeking election Nov. 8 from Area 2 representing Stockton, believes Delta College’s plans to essentially abandon Manteca is a major mistake. He has vowed, of elected, to work with Mathis to prevent the school farm from being sold.
Several students at the Delta College school farm have said they were told if relocating the school farm program to Galt is inconvenient for them they could always go to Modesto Junior College.
The Manteca City Council has not just gone on record over the past 20 years in favor of securing more post-secondary education opportunities within the community but they have tried several times to secure Stanislaus State and even Delta College courses at the former Lindbergh School but to no avail.
The need for education to help improve the economic lot of many residents in the Manteca area is underscored by the fact 62 percent of the 24,000 students in the Manteca Unified School District qualify for free or reduced lunches.
Mathis believes once Delta sells the school farm that it will shut the door on an education center being placed in Manteca.
“We (Delta College) need to put education centers where growth is occurring to serve students,” Mathis said.
Anyone interested in finding out more about efforts to save the school farm can contact Mathis at (310) 955.7637.
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