By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Manteca Unified campuses play key role in community recreation & entertainment
An actor performs during a community stage production more than 12 years ago at Manteca High’s Dorothy Mulhivill Theatre. - photo by Bulletin file photo

There are 21 community centers serving Manteca and Lathrop.

They’re called schools.

During the 2017-2018 school year there were 61 unique community-based groups that used Manteca Unified School District facilities ranging from gyms, football fields, swimming pools, aerobic rooms, and multipurpose rooms, to classrooms for a total of 92,568 hours. That is the equivalent of a school facility being used by a community group 24/7 non-stop for 10½ years if the use was not at concurrent times.

It underscores a point that Manteca Unified is striving to make — an investment in school facilities is also an investment in the greater community as a whole.

“We provide a lot of community entertainment,” noted Victoria Brunn who serves as the MUSD coordinator of community outreach. “(In the fall) on Friday nights the biggest gatherings in Manteca are at football games.”

Manteca Unified officials made it clear the door is always open to expanding community use of facilities.

Perhaps the biggest potential is at Manteca High that has started a $42 million modernization and growth project.

Once the new gym that will seat 2,161 is completed in late 2021 giving Manteca High the largest “big” gym among district high schools, the Buffs’ existing “big” gym will become the largest “small” gym in the district seating 700.

It means a larger secondary gym will be available for a wide array of recreational uses when it is not scheduled for school use.

District Superintendent Clark Burke is hopeful the community through the City of Manteca will again make use of the Dorothy Mulvihill Theatre as it did through the 1980s and 1990s. 

Basic upgrades to the theater are being made as part of the Manteca High modernization project. Additional improvements to the backstage area and a possible reworking of the foyer and restrooms could occur down the road.

Manteca High has the only traditional theater with stage and permanent seating in the school district. In the past the community-based Manteca Community Theatre and then the City of Manteca Recreation Department theatrical production group that was under the direction of Colleen Corley staged theatrical productions throughout the year.

During that time the city and community groups such as the Manteca Chamber of Commerce used the MHS theatre for lecture series, large community meetings, and concerts. The city in recent years has not made use of the facility despite it being the only theatre in Manteca.

The biggest benefactors of MUSD facilities are those that participate in a wide array of City of Manteca Parks & Recreation programs. The school district at the same time uses City of Manteca facilities such as the Northgate Softball complex, the golf course, and the senior center. A formal quid pro quo agreement between the two agencies allows for the use of the other’s facilities in a manner that does not cost taxpayers additional money.

Altogether there are 33 schools within the district that are used by community-based groups ranging from 4H clubs to youth football programs as well as programs offered through cities.

Perhaps the most intense use is a partnership with the City of Stockton that led to a joint use library on the New Vision High campus in Weston Ranch. The community of nearly 7,000 households has access to a library shared with the continuation high school.

Making people aware of the impacts school facilities have in terms of community recreation and entertainment is part of the groundwork being laid as the school board ponders placing a $250 million school bond on the March 2020 ballot.

The district has identified $625 million in safety needs and instructional space for existing students. The district has available $24.6 million in developer fees collected on a per square footage basis of all new construction and $29.9 million in Community Facilities Districts on hand. The CFD funds are restricted to schools within the geographic areas they are collected. Together the two sources of facility funding represent $54.5 million, leaving a $570 million shortfall.

The $250 million —that reflects a 60 cent charge per $100 of assessed value to generate $14.6 million annually — would address the most pressing needs. Such a bond would cost the owner of a home with an assessed value of $300,000 an additional $180 a year in taxes.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email