BULLETIN WEB POLL
Manteca Unified has to make one of the major cuts to balance the budget according to Acting Superintendent Jason Messer. This is how readers who participated in the www.mantecabulletin.com online poll voted:
Close Lathrop High: 76 votes
Have everyone take a pay cut in the district: 60 votes
Eliminate all bus transportation: 54 votes
Where they end up going next year might hinge on the outcome of the decision of the seven-member panel.
Over the course of the last month, a joint effort between district administration — essentially now consisting of Acting Superintendent Jason Messer and his staff and the 100-member budget-reduction committee — have been looking at ways to cut away the first $14 million needed to be identified before the budget is submitted on June 30.
With $1 million still needed to be identified on top of the $10 million in mid-year 2009/10 cuts that will also have to be made, Messer told a group of parents and employees during a meeting last week that he didn’t think it would be easy to hit the full amount with the designated Level III list already submitted without striking out one of the big three items – the elimination of all transportation, an across-the-board pay cut ranging from one to seven percent, or the closure of Lathrop High School.
While construction problems stemming from the housing crunch have long had an impact on Lathrop’s first high school – starting first with the lack of a sewage lift station that required all flushed toilets and sink run-off water to be trucked away – the campus is still well on its way to becoming a proud fixture of the community and a sense of pride for those who attend.
Not everyone in town is excited about the concept of seeing the campus shuttered.
“I think that it’s something that’s good for the town, and it’s something that’s good for the students who have a high school right here in their own town that they’re able to attend,” said Phil Papineau – as he enjoyed a cup of coffee at Eureka Coffee and Tea on Monday afternoon. “I think that it’s unfortunate that the timing is what it is and that it’s in jeopardy now, and that there couldn’t be a different set of circumstances because it’s really a sense of pride for the community.”
When Cameron Avawi started his school career as a Lathrop resident, he had no choice but take the bus into Manteca and become a transplanted Sierra Timberwolf – an experience he said suited him well at the time because he was able to get involved with a school that had already began establishing a tradition.
But now that Lathrop has its own high school, he said, it’s important to those students and all of the elementary school students coming up to be able to identify with the town’s only high school – something that he said shouldn’t have been opened only if those students are going to face having to be transferred somewhere else only a year later.
“Lathrop’s a growing town and it definitely deserves its own high school to help cater to those students and give them a sense of local identity instead of having to be bussed somewhere else,” Avawi said. “I know that if I had friends that were facing this, they wouldn’t be happy – especially after they already started out at Lathrop High School and are now having to look elsewhere.
“It just doesn’t seem fair to the students who have committed there as well as the teachers that have moved over to start another school and start building the tradition that I got to enjoy when I was at Sierra. It’s something that should seriously be considered a last resort.”
The Manteca Unified trustees will discuss the matter tonight at 7 p.m. inside of the board room at their Administrative Complex located at 2901 E. Louise Avenue. To obtain a copy of the agenda or other materials pertaining to the meeting – including a breakdown of the proposed cuts and those already approved, visit www.mantecausd.net.