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FFA livestock may graze at school site
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The Rustic School site could soon benefit Manteca Unified students.

Pending approval at tonight’s school board meeting – the open session begins at 7 p.m. in the administration building, 2271 W. Louise Ave., Manteca – members of Future Farmers of America with livestock projects would have access to the property just south of the Highway 120 bypass earmarked to accommodate future growth.

Under the license agreement to at least one land owner of the Rustic site, terms would not exceed five years.

If all goes accordingly, FFA students will be able to use a portion of the land for grazing and housing of their livestock, specifically, cattle.

According to the agreement, “grazing will reduce and eliminate costs associated with weed and vegetation control.”

Initially, Rustic School, a kindergarten- through eighth- grade campus, was part of the voter-approved Measure M projects. But those plans were shelved by the district when the housing market took a dip and, with it, a decline in student enrollment.

Not too long ago, Superintendent Jason Messer indicated that state law requires school districts, under the category of unused land, to pay property taxes. In the past, Manteca Unified was able to install temporary playing fields in such areas.

However, the Rustic site posed a challenge.

The property is landlocked, thus, making it difficult to get there particularly without a direct access route.

District officials spent several months working with land owners of the adjacent property while exploring options.

The site is an unincorporated area of San Joaquin County located off Airport Way and Fig Avenue.