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Bond work would keep campuses functioning
bowers bond
Manteca Unified Director of Operations and Facilities Aaron Bowers inspects site work for the new gym and swimming pool at Manteca High.

Site work on the new gym and swimming pool being built at Manteca High provided a glimpse of what Manteca Unified is up against with 11 of is 33 school campuses being over 50 years old.

Workers came across a buried power line that — once it was inspected — was shown to have wires fraying and was on the verge of failing. The line served the Winters Gym, locker rooms, and several nearby buildings.

It was an unexpected $10,000 cost to replace it.

But if the Measure G bond project work hadn’t come across the line it would have eventually failed.

If the timing of the failure was “right” — the day after a school year ended — as a separate job to bid out the work could easily cost $30,000 or more. But had it happened when students were on campus it would have triggered the need for an emergency repair that would cost $50,000 or more given the source of the problem would need to be found first and repairs made on an emergency basis due to the need to get the work done so the facilities could be used by the campus’ 1,500 students.

Making sure existing school facilities stay functional and safe as well as to avoid emergency patchwork that would siphon significant money away from classroom instruction, the Manteca Unified board placed Measure A on the Nov. 3 ballot.

There are $302.4 million in identified facility needs defined by age and conditions at the 21 campuses in Manteca, $69.6 million at the six campuses in Weston Ranch, $31.1 million at the four Lathrop campuses and $6.3 million at French Camp School.

The total needs that reflect significant critical components you cannot see that are underground, behind walls, or on roofs comes to $409.6 million. The number does not include “program deficiencies” such as the lack of space for specific offerings.

Measure A is designed to address critical infrastructure and aging classroom issues. If it passes it will provide the district with $260 million toward the $302.4 million in identified needs.  The bond measure requires a 55 percent positive vote to pass.

And nowhere are the needs as great as they are at Manteca and East Union high schools.  If the two campuses had to be replicated today they would cost nearly $200 million apiece to replace.

The buildings on the Manteca High campus have an average composite age of 52 years with the largest amount of modernization needs in the district. It will require another $62 million to bring all classrooms and infrastructure up to grade due to wear and tear and functionality. The goal of Measure A — the goal is to make sure structures tax dollars are invested in will have at least another 50 years of useful life.

 East Union still has $49 million worth of upgrades needed for other aging buildings on the East Union campus that includes 25 portables, gym issues, and “bone” issues behind the walls that you can’t see, among other issues that won’t be covered by Measure G work now under way. That does not include $45 million in education programming needs that includes things such as a theater and combining attendance with the administrative offices.

The school bond caps the cost to property taxpayers to $45 per $100,000 per assessed value. That’s a far cry from March when the bond failed to reach the 55 percent threshold needed for approval. The cap was $60 per $100,000 at the time.

The difference is the more favorable bond market due to the pandemic as well as the district’s financial rating being considered extremely appealing when compared to most other school districts and government agencies such as cities and counties.

And given the last series of the Measure G bonds ended up costing property owners $37 instead of $60 per $100,000 in assessed evaluation, the chances are good if the bonds are approved the actual cost to homeowners and other property owners will be less than $45 per $100,000 evaluation.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email