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Manteca Unified turns 50; celebration takes place Tuesday
East Union High teacher Willie Herrera, center, listens during a training session for teachers Wednesday at the Manteca Unified School District office. - photo by HIME ROMERO/ The Bulletin

Fifty years ago Manteca Unified came into being.
The marriage of eight different districts — Manteca Union High as well as the Manteca, Lathrop, French Camp,  Castle-Summer Home (New Haven), Nile Garden, Mossdale, and Calla elementary districts — was seen as a way to make public education in the community seamless from kindergarten through 12th grade while helping reduce costs.
There were more than a few voters in the small districts when the 1966 election was conducted that feared a “Manteca Unified” district would erode community identifies at New Haven, Nile Garden, French Camp, and Lathrop.
As Manteca Unified prepares to celebrate its golden anniversary on Tuesday, Aug. 9, from 6:30 to 7 p.m. at the district office quad at 2271 W. Louise Ave., it is clear Manteca Unified didn’t swallow up smaller districts as much as helping them to flourish and strength their community identities even more.
“French Camp residents had a real concern that the identify of their school and community would be lost,” noted Roger Goatcher who serves as the Manteca Unified Deputy Superintendent.
Goatcher — who resides in French Camp and served as vice principal for French Camp School from 2000 to 2003 — said the community’s ties to the school that traces its roots back to 1850 to a building costing $491 to build are as strong as ever.
District Superintendent Jason Messer added that “it’s called Manteca Unified” but the district has district and vibrant communities it serves in Manteca, Lathrop, French Camp, Weston Ranch and rural areas such as Nile Garden and New Haven.
When the district unified it brought together 13 schools and 7,500 students. Toda there are 30 campuses and 23,204 students making Manteca Unified California’s 55th largest district out of 1,025 public school districts statewide and 46th among the state’s unified districts.
Manteca Unified is the third largest district in San Joaquin County after Stockton Unified (40,324 students and 18th overall in the state) and Lodi Unified (30,395 students and 31st overall in the state).
Messer said without unification in place today financial limits would have been placed on students as well as forward thinking comprehensive programs and students’ exposure to them.
The superintendent said given the state’s push for less districts through consolidation, if Manteca Unified hadn’t been formed in 1966 there is a good chance French Camp would have been swallowed up by Stockton Unified.
“It would be a very different situation (at French Camp School). Messer said.
He noted Weston Ranch would have developed more in-line with Stockton Unified campuses.
The celebration Tuesday will involve the unveiling of plaques for each indicial school site that tighter represents the Manteca Unified School District. Messer and Board President Deborah Romero will give a brief presentation in commemoration prior to that night’s board meeting. Light refreshments will be served after the quad ceremonies are over.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email