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Manteca Unified property tax receipts up but money is taken by state leaving local schools with zero gain
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You would think with almost 800 new homes built last year within the Manteca Unified boundaries, major distribution center and commercial construction in Manteca and Lathrop, as well more than 1,300 homes districtwide reselling at prices significantly higher than their assessed amounts that the school district’s money cup would be running over.

But regardless of how much new taxes are generated from local property development and sales, the district’s cup of money used to fund basic school costs doesn’t change except basically by state decree based on student growth and any increase granted by Sacramento for cost of living increases.

One reoccurring point surfacing in conversations about the upcoming March 3 vote on the $260 million Measure R bond to address repair and modernization needs at the 32 school campuses in the Manteca Unified district is essentially “where has the money gone?”

It is often asked in reference to how the district came to have a $427 million listed of needs that are strictly tied into building conditions such as roofs and heating/air systems nearing the end of their useful life, buckling playground asphalt, aging underground pipes that are approaching 100 years of age at campuses like Manteca and a long list of structural issues from dry rot to the need for wiring upgrade.

Most people are aware of how much property taxes they pay and perhaps 51 percent of what they pay outside of previous bond issues for Delta College and Manteca Unified going toward K-12 education. The rest is split among 10 other local taxing agencies with San Joaquin getting 22 cents of every $1 in basic property tax you pay and the City of Manteca 17 percent.

It would seem logical if your tax bill increases 2 percent — the maximum in any given year under Proposition 13 — that half of that increase goes to Manteca Unified. The same would seem true of re-assessments triggered by a resale or new construction.

If a resale home had been assessed at $300,000 but sold for $400,000 the tax bill based on a 1 percent assessment would go from $3,000 to $4,000 with Manteca Unified receiving $501 for a 33 percent increase for local schools. Likewise the first full year of Great Wolf — a $180 million investment — of being on the property roll at 1 percent tax assessment would generate $1.8 million in annual property taxes with just over $900,000 going to Manteca Unified.


State takes money

beyond 22% of cost

of educating students

from local districts

Based on the fact Manteca and  Lathrop are among the fastest growing cities in California you might assume Manteca Unified is likely rolling in the dough.

That isn’t the case based on how the State of California funds education.

Sacramento decides how much money a local school district needs to operate using California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).

The established LCFF for the current year for Manteca Unified based on what the state determines will be available to fund the local school system is roughly $10,500 for each of the district’s nearly 25,000 students.

Under state rules, on average, local property tax makes up roughly 22 percent of that funding first. The rest is covered by the state. In districts that have a much weaker property tax base, the percentage of the local share is lower.

No matter how much more local funds via property tax increases a school district receives locally, the amount they have to educate students doesn’t change unless there is enrollment growth or the state adjusts the figure for inflation. Increases to the basic formula when they happen tend to be one-time money meaning if Manteca Unified receives an extra $5 million of a statewide pie the legislature carves up, it will only be for one year.

The state spends about 40 percent of the general fund portion of the annual budget on education from preschool through post-secondary education. This year the general fund accounts for $147.7 billion of an operating budget of $208 billion. That excludes $5.9 billion in restricted bond proceeds and $106.3 billion in restricted federal funds.

85 percent of

school budget goes

for salaries, benefits

The current Manteca Unified general fund budget us $267.8 million. Of that, 85 percent pays for salaries and benefits of 1,300 teachers and other credentialed personnel as well as 1,100 support staff. Once teaching materials, power costs, and such are accounted for that leaves between $1.2 million and $1.8 million a year for maintenance covering materials and replacement equipment as well as to hire firms for work the district is not equipped to do.

The fact virtually all of the district’s 450 portables (out of 1,400 classrooms) that are between 20 and 40 years old don’t need to be replaced is a testimony to the district’s maintenance crews and the fact Manteca Unified has been able to commit 50 percent more annually to maintenance than typical public school systems in California. The significance of those numbers are amplified given portable classrooms have a rated life expectancy of 20 years.

That 50 percent comes to 3 percent of the district’s general fund as opposed to the state minimum maintenance set aside requirement of 2 percent.

That means the district is left with between $1.2 million and $1.8 million a year for materials and replacement equipment as well as to hire firms for work the district is not equipped to do.

Manteca Unified has 2.6 million square feet of facilities on 32 campuses to maintain. The typical footprint of a new home currently being built in Manteca is 2,300 square feet. The 2.6 million square feet the district maintains is the equivalent of 1,130 homes.

The money that school districts use to build new or renovate existing school facilities such as classrooms and sports facilities is in addition to the LCFF allocation because there are not enough funds.


State doesn’t provide

money for maintenance

of school facilities for

major cost items

The district uses developer fees, local bonds, and proceeds from Mell-Roos taxes to repair and upgrade existing facilities and to go toward school facilities. State bonds are used to supplement local sources.

As far as new facilities are concerned, even if a school district has all three sources to use for new construction to accommodate growth — developer fees, Mello Roos taxes, and bonds — it still only covers about two thirds of the actual cost.

To illustrate how state funding negates “windfalls” a local school district receives, Manteca Unified is expected to receive $2.7 million from the pending sale of two redevelopment parcels.

The district has received preliminary indication from the state that the money may be counted toward Manteca Unified’s share of the LCFF and the state’s contribution reduced by an equal amount leaving the local schools with a net gain of zero.

When the RDA law existed, school districts that gave up a percentage of the property tax to make it work would receive some funding to go toward facilities. But with RDAs dissolved and the LCFF now in place Manteca Unified may not have the luxury of using the money for that purpose meaning it simply goes to Sacramento.

The $260 million bond measure on the March 3 ballot that emphasizes the three “R”s — repair, renovate, and revitalize — aims to make sure at least another 20 years of use can be squeezed out of as many portables as possible.

Passage of Measure R would provide the district to address the most pressing maintenance needs among the portables along with permanent structures, grounds, and “invisible” infrastructure such as water pipes and electrical wiring.

The bond requires 55 percent of votes cast to be in the affirmative to be approved. It will impose a tax of $60 per $100,000 of assessed value. That means if your home has an assessed value under Proposition 13 of $300,000, you would pay an additional $180 a year in taxes.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email