Neil Hafley School is targeted to see $4.2 million in health and safety upgrades — with the bulk of it going to replace asphalt that has cracks as wide as 4 inches.
It is part of the next wave of $159 million in bond projects made possible after voters approved Measure G in November of 2014.
Other work is being done to existing classrooms to make sure they continue to meet health and safety issues. Work is expected to get underway within a year.
It’s what is not being done that underscores the predicament Manteca Unified finds itself in with available funding for addressing concerns at the district’s 30 plus campuses — none of the portable classrooms that have now been in use for more than 30 years are being replaced.
“There simply isn’t enough bond money available,” Manteca Unified Director of Facilities Aaron Bowers told the Manteca Rotary earlier this month.
Bowers noted the school board — realizing that $159 million would not make much of a dent in needs on existing campuses that had been pegged at $600 million but is now approaching $1 billion due to escalating construction costs — made clear priorities. Health and safety issues had to be addressed first.
Neil Hafley is an all-portable school in terms of its classrooms. The state expects portable classrooms to have a life expectancy of 20 years. The reason the Neil Hafley classrooms are in the fairly good condition there are in is due to the district over the years taking an aggressive stance toward keeping on top of issues as they surface.
That, however, comes at a cost. Maintaining portable classrooms cost significantly more than a typical “stick built” classroom.
Neil Halfey also stands as a reminder of sorts of the dilemma the district faces as housing growth is taking off. The Northgate Drive and Hoyt Lane elementary campus was built in the 1980s when Manteca Unified was struggling with growth as well.
The district, in order to accommodate growth, took land that had been set aside for future East Union High expansion. It would have been used for athletic fields while other areas could have been reconfigured for classrooms. But the need for an elementary school was pressing. It is why East Union today often uses facilities at Northgate Park for sports programs.
Making matters worse is the pavement at Neil Halfey School — as well as a number of other campuses — did not have the proper base used. That has led to an acceleration of asphalt deterioration.
Neil Hafley will have drainage issues corrected and the proper base put in place to ensure a longer asphalt life.
“Pavement work can get expensive,” Bowers noted.
The district is striving to make sure Measure G work as well as new classroom construction to accommodate growth using developer fees will be built in manner that long-range upkeep costs are kept to a minimum.
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