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DeBrum sees it as win-win-win move for city, school & taxpayers
MHS swim pool.jpg

Manteca High needs a replacement swimming pool.

The City of Manteca wants a new swimming.

Manteca High has an outdated performing arts center.

The City of Manteca has a performing arts center on its wish list.

Manteca Unified is far from flush with money and has a long list of needs and wants.

The same is true of the City of Manteca.

With that in mind, Mayor Steve DeBrum and Councilman Mike Morowit have been in talks during the past year with their elected counterparts on the MUSD school board to explore those possibilities and others through 2-by-2 committee meetings. The committee’s name is derived from the fact two elected officials from each agency serve on them.

DeBrum hopes the city continues working with the district in a bid to obtain needed facilities when he along with Morowit step down Tuesday as elected officials. DeBrum said not only does the city not have all the funds needed to tackle needs and wants but neither does the school district.

DeBrum said it is a “win-win-win” for the city, school district, and taxpayers.

District Superintendent Clark Burke believes not only are joint ventures viable options for a swimming pool and performing arts center but there are likely other partnerships that could be put in place involving the Manteca High campus when looked as part of a bigger, contiguous footprint that includes Lincoln School and Lincoln Park.

Manteca Unified is starting its $40 million modernization project and situating the campus for growth in 2019. It includes:

*Permanently closing Garfield Avenue between Mikesell Street and the northern most entrance to the current student parking lot. The section that is being closed eventually will be converted into a plaza to allow access, if needed, for city crews to work on sewer, water, and storm water lines that run below the length of Garfield Avenue.

*Re-orientating the front of the campus toward Moffat Boulevard. A new administration office complex will be built to make this happen. This would allow buses as well as student drop-off to take place from Moffat using Garfield Avenue and Sherman Avenue. It would help relieve congestion along Yosemite Avenue.

*Demolishing the swimming pool and building a new gym capable of seating the entire eventual student body of 2,200 students. It will be immediately south of the existing big gym. The swimming pool will not be replaced in the first phase. That would happen in a later phase.

*Build new locker rooms for both the boys and girls physical education and sports programs.

*The existing small gym would be demolished.

*The school district’s first two-story classroom will be built west of the new gym.

*The cafeteria will be expanded and a new student quad created. This will involve demolishing existing classrooms.

*A new science quad will be created.

*A new softball field will be created just outside the main entrance to the football field on an existing grassy area. The centerfield fence will bump against the centerfield fence of the baseball field.



City looking at projects

with $45 million price tag

At the same time the city is exploring what it would take to build the first round of needed or wanted amenities in the Parks & Recreation Master Plan the City Council adopted two years ago. The three projects being looked at — a swimming pool/aquatics center, community gym/recreation center and sports fields — had a price tag of $45 million when they were identified in 2016.

Since then construction costs have been rising at a robust 5 to 8 percent a year. The end result is whatever dollars the city can generate from growth fees and a possible bond will not go as far as they would have two years ago.

Burke said the district already has a general idea where they would like to build a replacement swimming pool on the Manteca High campus. The school district, like the city, has indicated they may be able to build a pool but maintaining it is another issue. It is why Burke said any possible joint venture — splitting the costs or one agency building it and another maintaining it — would be worth considering.

“We both (the schools and city) basically have the same taxpayers,” Burke said in reference to how the same people would have to be tapped to build a swimming pool for Manteca High and for the city.

The pool is perhaps the “cleanest” possible joint use facility. That because school and city use would not overlap. As for the community forming a competitive swimming team down the road as Manteca gets larger and the demand for swimming grows, other communities with such tams often arrange for practices during the school year when there is a conflict in the spring to take place before the start of classes.

Building a swimming pool isn’t cheap. The study commissioned by the state had a $4.5 million price tag to replace the 60-year-old Lincoln Pool and $11.6 million to build an aquatics center. And that was in 2016 dollars.

The aquatics center — as envisioned by the consultant — would consist of two swimming pools at one location. 

Both the Manteca High swimming pool and the city’s pool at Lincoln Park are inadequate for current needs.


Performing arts

center possibilities

Like the swimming pool, significant work on the performing arts center at Manteca High is not likely to occur in the initial $40 million of work that is scheduled.

The performing arts center is the oldest in the district and it is also the only one within Manteca’s city limits with permanent seating.

A joint use project would likely include modernizing seating and upgrading support facilities such as the lobby and restrooms and improving back stage space so it could accommodate both municipal and school district uses.

Besides two to three theatrical productions a year, the Dorothy Muhlivill Theatre rarely is used by the school.

That would allow it not only to be used for city theatrical productions but would allow the city — working with community groups — to stage a wide variety of cultural offerings such as concerts, lectures, and other events.

Depending how the lobby area is expanded, the city could also secure space for a static arts center to strengthen the arts in Manteca.

The location of the Manteca High performing arts center is along the 400 block of East Yosemite allowing it to be tied into downtown.

Other possible joint uses

between the school & city

The current Manteca High gym — that can hold roughly 1,000 people — is the smallest “big gym” among all the district’s five comprehensive high schools. Once the small gym that lacks seating and air conditioning is demolished to make way for other campus upgrades, the existing big gym would become the largest “small gym” in the district.

That could open the door for more robust use by city leagues during the week when school is in session and could eliminate the need for $12 million plus for a standalone city gym or one built as part of a community center. Given the access is from Garfield Avenue, it could be secured for separate public used without accessing the campus.

The city currently has up to 20 hours of program use at some of the district’s multipurpose rooms after education needs are first taken into account.

Some involved in municipal recreation have expressed reservations with joint use partnerships based on the multiple-purpose room agreement.

In reality, the partnership for multipurpose rooms that was formed so the school district could secure the lion’s share of the money to build them under a special state funding program for joint use community ventures was never a 50-50 partnership.

In fact, the money the city put up as “its share” was simply am advance on redevelopment agency funds that were due the school district. The city never had money in the effort nor did it hammer out precise use periods because of that settling for 20 hours a week after school needs were first scheduled.

Burke pointed out that with the closure of Garfield Avenue between Mikesell Avenue and a point north of Moffat Boulevard, Manteca High along with Lincoln Park and Lincoln School are all continuous.

Burke said the district is open to exploring other joint projects involving the two schools and park if they make sense for both the schools and the city.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email