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Lathrop may be served by 2 unified districts

Lathrop could be served by two unified school districts by the time 2021 rolls around.

Plans are moving forward to unify the  Banta Elementary School District with an election targeted for 2020. If successful it would mean high school students in Banta as well as River Islands at Lathrop would eventually no longer be served by the Tracy Joint Unified School District.

They instead would attend a new high school campus being built with $100 million being advanced by Cambay Group that ultimately will be paid back via community facilities district fees by the future owners of 11,000 housing units being built at River Islands.

Cambay Group advancing the funding is how the initial River Islands school that cost $25 million and was up and running before the first home was even sold was built. That school — Next Generation STEAM Academy — along with Banta Elementary School — would be part of the new school district.

The developers of River Islands also established the River Islands Tech Academy campus just down the street from the Next Generation STEAM Academy.

River Islands Project Manager Susan Dell’Osso said putting in the school first and making sure a high school can be built is part of the overall philosophy Cambay Group has to make sure there is a community in place when families buy homes.

Dell’Osso said the high school campus will be designed initially for 1,600 students and will open with 9th and 10th graders adding a class level annually in 2023 and 2024. The campus is ultimately anticipated to expand to 2,000 students. River Islands high school age students currently travel to Tracy for school.

Initial planning calls for a football field to be created by not as a full-scale stadium. Instead it is likely to have low-key bleachers in a bid to keep the overall cost of the campus under $100 million.

Students living in Lathrop north of the San Joaquin River are part of the  Manteca Unified School District with 9th through 12th graders attending Lathrop High.

If unification is approved by the voters, Lathrop will become one of two San Joaquin County cities served by more than one unified school district. The other is Stockton that is served by the Stockton, Lincoln, and Lodi unified school districts.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email