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Manteca Unified will run out of money to address $900M in modernization needs
Parents leave the Sierra High gym during the 2017 Back to School Night. - photo by Bulletin file photo

There is $79 million in needed work at Sierra High as well as four elementary campuses — French Camp, New Haven, McParland, and the McParland Annex.

That said there is only enough Measure G bond money assigned to the five schools to cover $33.9 million worth of work. That’s just $800,000 more than the identified needs costing $31.4 million at Sierra High that fall under health and safety, deferred/major maintenance, modernization and upgrades, and addressing code compliance issues. Sierra High is expected to have $11.9 million in Measure G funds allocated to address campus issues.

The Manteca Unified will provide direction to staff Tuesday on how to proceed with the third wave of Measure G projects. The board meets at 7 p.m. at the district office, 2271 West Louise Ave.

Voters in 2014 approved $159 million through Measure G to upgrade existing campuses. In the first round of projects at Lincoln, Golden West, Shasta, Sequoia, and Lathrop schools the district spent $46 million.

Another $28 million — $13 million at East Union and $15 million at Manteca High — in Measure G money will be spent on health and safety, code compliance, and modernization at the two high school campuses with work starting as early as March. At the same time the high school campus work is being done, Manteca Unified is spending $7 million on Measure G projects at Nile Garden School. At the same time work is underway at both high schools and Nile Garden with non-Measure G funds for construction tied into accommodating growth. That will whittle Measure G funds down to $68 million. The third wave of work the board will discuss Tuesday will leave the district with $35 million in Measure G to address issues once it is completed. 

Also on Tuesday the board is being asked to add $207,000 to the modernization project at Neil Hafley School taking place at the same time as the two high schools and Nile Garden as well as $70,000 to renovate the East Union High band room that wasn’t included in the work originally authorized for the high school.

The remaining money, if the district is able to fulfill their promise to voters, will go toward modernization projects at the remaining schools.

The identified work at Sierra High illustrates what the district is up against. There is $705,000 worth of health and safety projects including video surveillance, fire alarms as well as concrete and asphalt replacement. Another $9.4 million is budgeted for major and deferred maintenance such as $1.3 million for asphalt replacement, $1.1 million for field improvements, $510,000 for carpet replacement, $2.9 million for heating and air upgrades, $569,000 for new toilets, $1.7 million for painting and wall coverings, $400,000 for kitchen renovations, and $845,000 for roof replacement.

If all of those projects are done, it would eat up $11.3 million or almost the entire $11.9 million. 

The list likely not to get funded is identified as modernization and upgrades coming in at $21.2 million.  That includes $7 million for a new theatre, $5.5 million for new vocational education classrooms, $6.4 million to replace portables, $700,000 for additional field upgrades, and $320,000 to remove portables.

New Haven is budgeted $6 million for $12.6 million in identified Measure G projects. French Camp has $7 million set aside for $23 million worth of work, and the two McParland campuses have $8.5 million budgeted for $12 million of projects.

The school district has $143 million left in bonding capacity after Measure G was passed. Construction inflation is expected to erode the buying power of the bonding capacity by 16 percent by the time 2020 rolls around.

It has a pressing capital needs list for work at aging schools originally pegged at $600 million that is now pushing $900 million due to construction inflation.

District plan was to

combine Measure G

projects with growth related

work to save money

Then lack of money is a problem the district recognized from the outset in shaping the Measure G spending program. It is why the second phase of campuses being tackled has several campuses such as Manteca High and Nile Garden School tapping combined growth funds with Measure G funds to maximize the impact of expenditures and to benefit financially from efficiencies of wedding growth as well as health, safety, and modernization projects together.

Making funding more challenging is the state that is moving at a snail’s pace toward chunks of $3.3 billion set aside to modernize school structures of a certain age that was part of the $10.4 billion statewide Proposition 1D school bond approved by voters in 2014. 

Manteca Unified — just like other districts such as Ripon Unified — are counting on the state bond matching funds to leverage additional work. But as of this month, the state — which has approved the first five Measure G projects to be placed on the list for consideration for funding — has not moved closer to awarding a dime of the $3.3 billion although they have announced they are no longer considering projects to add to the list.

The board has already indicated it wants to consider another bond measure in 2020.   

School districts can ask the state for approval to exceed their bonding capacity if needed.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email