The push for a bond measure that will help Manteca Unified School District take care of facilities issues will likely have to wait for another election cycle.
When the Board of Education meets on Tuesday, July 24 — at 4 p.m. instead of the usually 7 p.m. – they will formally accept the report of the recently formed bond measure committee that looked into whether it would be in the best interest of the district to push for a bond on the November ballot.
That committee – which consisted of Superintendent Clark Burke, Facilities and Operations Director Aaron Bowers, Board Vice President Bob Wallace, Trustee Eric Duncan, CSEA Chapter 50 President Jeff McLarty, CSEA Representative Mary Buchannan, Lathrop High Vice Principal and MEA representative Chuck Selna, community member Karen Pearsall and community member Daryl Carpenter – is recommending that the board not pursue a bond in 2018 and instead update the district’s Master Facilities Plan and set their sights on 2020 for a bond measure that will allow for projects that have been sidelined and priced out to finally be tackled.
While much of the discussion by the board on the night that the formed the committee centered on using the bond money to update athletics facilities – spurred by the fact that both the Sierra and Weston Ranch High School field renovation project bids came back 50 percent higher than expected – the actual language used was more open-ended and would have allowed for the board to use the money for educational facilities or renovations that weren’t possible with the shrinking pot of money from the last bond measure.
According to Bowers, construction costs have risen by roughly 8 percent every year, costing the district roughly 30 percent of the funding that they had available when voters first passed the bond.
When the committee met for the first time, they did discuss the need to repair and improve athletic facilities throughout the district.
The decision to wait until 2020 may also be a strategic one.
One of the reasons the board expressed a desire to look into qualifying a bond measure for the 2018 election – and spending up to tens of thousands of dollars to hire a public relations firm to test the language of the bond and promote it to voters – was because in even years it only takes a simple majority for a bond measure to pass. If the district were to come back next year and push for the bond, it would require a two-thirds majority and would likely be much more expensive since the full cost of the special election would be borne by the district and not spread out amongst other municipalities and districts like it will be for the midterms.
The committee unanimously agreed “that there are major unfunded facility needs inclusive of athletic and other facilities,” according to the background prepared by Burke’s office for the board, and therefore by updating the Master Facilities Plan the district will get the chance to prioritize future goals in order of importance to ensure that a future bond will be maximized much the same way that the money from Measure G went towards essential safety upgrades before other modernization efforts were incorporated.
The Manteca Unified School District Board of Education typically meets on the second Tuesday of the month as the district’s administrative campus, located at 2271 W. Louise Avenue. The upcoming board meeting will be held earlier, at 4 p.m., and a copy of the agenda can be found at the district’s website at www.mantecausd.net.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.