The $159 million Manteca Unified School bond on the Nov. 4 ballot is not simply a rehab of existing schools that have safety, health, and aging issues such as structural concerns.
The bond language does allow for constructing new school facilities at existing school sites — including sites that are vacant — among other things.
Included on a list of project possibilities, according to District Superintendent Jason Messer, could be the construction of some classrooms — although not necessarily a full campus — at the Ethel Allen school site in Lathrop.
Messer stressed that it isn’t a certainty but if growth continues at the current pace in Mossdale Landing west of Interstate 5 in Lathrop and down the road if the nearly 400 Manteca Unified students currently attending River Islands Technology Academy in the Banta School District were to be bumped by growth on River Islands, it could create a situation where Lathrop students would have to be bused elsewhere. And as such that could create a domino effect on other schools including Manteca elementary campuses.
It is just one of the scenarios that could occur under the bond language.
Messer said the district tried to build as much flexibility as legally possible in the bond measure so that they could respond adequately to needs as they arise.
Among the identified projects are classrooms and auto shops for the be.tech Academy operated at the Manteca Unified School District office complex on Louise Avenue.
Not only does that address a trend toward more vocational education, but an expanding be.tech program could take pressure off existing Manteca high school campuses. That, coupled with additional buildings such as for the fine and performing arts at the campuses could theoretically delay the need for a fourth comprehensive high school campus the district is planning on Tinnin Road in south Manteca. A comprehensive high school campus would cost in excess of $80 million to build.
The bond language makes it clear that there is no guarantee that all of the identified projects on the bond list will be funded. It also stipulates there is no order of priority for the projects and that ultimately what projects will be built first and in what order they will happen is up to the school board.
There is also a disclaimer noting that the district is unable to anticipate all unforeseen circumstances which may prevent some of the projects listed from being undertaken or completed.
And while it has initially been touted as a bond that will rehabilitate aging schools, there are actually four areas funds can be spent if the bonds are authorized. They include:
• School safety and security upgrades.
• Repairing, upgrading, and modernizing school facilities and buildings throughout the district.
• Technology and science modernization projects such as computers and wireless technology.
• Renovations and upgrades to school grounds, physical education, and athletic facilities.