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Committee wants to hear first from pollsters
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Feedback on a bond feasibility survey could influence a proposed Manteca Unified bond measure for the November ballot.

That’s part of the direction provided by Manteca Unified’s Bond Measure Committee on Thursday.

Members of the nine-member group agreed that the district has a need for instructional / athletic facilities based on the current MUSD Master Facilities Plan. They also agreed to wait for the findings of the pollsters to decide the next step.

Director of Facilities / Operations Aaron Bower provided a projects list for consideration from the Master Facilities Plan totaling $61 million or so using 2018 construction costs.

Of that, the high school projects would be “somewhere between $21 million to $25 million,” Bowers said.

Manteca High and Weston Ranch High’s football field improvement / all-weather track and Sierra High’s tennis courts were on that list.

Committee member Eric Duncan – he’s also a school board member with years of experience as a football coach in the Weston Ranch community – indicated that WRHS has an immediate need, blaming the poor field conditions for a rash of injuries to 30 or more youngsters over the years, from “broken legs to messed up backs,” he said.

Some committee members such as Karen Pearsall believe that MUSD should wait until Measure G plays out.

Measure G was the $159 million general obligation bond that received slightly over 59 percent approval from voters in 2014. Senior Director of Business Services Jacqui Brietenbucher, who worked on that campaign, wants to make sure that Measure G keeps up on its promise “to touch every school site,” she said.

The Measure G projects are on pace as intended, according to Superintendent Clark Burke. He added this bond measure was designed to meet the specific needs of “safety, health, deferred maintenance, modernization and upgrades, and code compliance,” as aligned with the priorities of the Master Facilities Plan.

As for another bond, Burke provided these tidbits:

  • Currently, the district has $143 million bonding capacity.
  • A new bond would cost $4.4 million annually – or $3.66 monthly – per $100,000 assessed property value.
  • A required 55 percent voter approval would be necessary for passage this year or in 2020 (both even numbered years) and 66 percent in 2019, which is an odd numbered year.

The bond feasibility survey is being conducted by FM3 in conjunction with TBWB Strategies, Bowers said.

He and other district officials are scheduled to review the survey questions with the pollsters on Monday.

Burke said the committee was formed to open up a conversation while providing direction to the board on whether or not to proceed with placing the bond measure – no name or even a dollar amount has yet to be established, he noted – on the Nov. 6 ballot.

“We’re on a tight time line,” Burke said.

Committee member Bob Wallace – he and Duncan are the appointed school board member of the group – pointed out that the athletic facilities at the district high schools do more than just service students at those respective sites. “It’s the community that also use our facilities,” he said.

Included are 16 different youth football organizations.

Committee member Chuck Selna, who is also the Athletic Director at Lathrop High, spent 20 years as a P.E. teacher. He believes that the school sports facilities have even a greater importance to students.

“They’re used more for an instructional area than an athletic area,” Selna said.

Committee member Jeff McLarty, given the tight timelines – the decision to place the bond measure in time for the November election could be conducted at Aug. 7 school board meeting – was among those who favored waiting another two years.

“I think we would have a better snap shot of our facilities needs in 2020,” he said.