Passage of the $260 million school bond on the Nov. 3 ballot means major deficiencies at Manteca High and East Union High — the two oldest secondary campuses in the Manteca Unified School District — will be addressed for the most part.
In the latest ballot tabulation as of Friday at 9 p.m. Measure A continued to hold enough of a “yes” vote cushion that it is highly unlikely the remaining votes left to be verified and counted will change the outcome.
So far there are 24,148 (57.14 percent) yes votes and 18,112 (42.8 percent) no votes. The bond measure requires 55 percent support to pass.
The same bond measure was rejected in March as it fell almost 5 percent below the number of votes needed to pass. The March 3 tally had 9,874 (50.04 percent) votes for the bonds and 9,859 (49.96 percent) votes cast against it.
The $260 million will go toward whittling down a list of $302.4 million in identified critical and infrastructure needs defined by age and conditions.
If the district opts to knock off all of the identified deficiencies that are left after Measure G bond projects now underway are completed at Manteca High and East Union, the work will consume 43 percent of the $260 million in bonds approved in the Nov. 3 election.
That’s because after Measure G bond proceeds committed are exhausted another $62 million is needed to bring all Manteca High classrooms and infrastructure up to grade due to wear and tear and functionality. East Union has $49 million worth of upgrades needed for other aging buildings on the campus that includes 25 portables, gym issues, and “bone” issues behind the walls that you can’t see.
Should enough Measure A funds be committed to cover the remaining upgrade needs at East Union and Manteca, the district’s two oldest high school campuses existing buildings and infrastructure will have been brought up to modern standards and functionality to last another expected 50 years.
That however does not address education programming needs that approach $100 million at the two campuses. At East Union that comes to $45 million for needs such a theater and combining attendance with the administrative offices.
Measure A funds are targeted for structural and modernization deficiencies and not new space needs
The remaining $42 million worth of projects on the district’s identified list of $302.4 million in deficiencies could be knocked off if the state ever reimburses the district for initial Measure G work conducted at Lincoln, Lathrop Elementary, Golden West, ands Shasta Schools that qualified for state bond money.
The district could not seek a larger bond measure without getting a waiver by the state to do so as the $260 million measure that was passed by voters will bring the district close to its bonding limit.
District Superintendent Clark Burke noted Measure A projects will get underway in a timelier manner than Measure G did after that $159 million bond was passed in November 2014. That’s because when the district prepared basic work plans for modernizing campuses using Measure G bond funds they included all work that was ultimately needed. It resulted in infrastructure upgrades being done in a manner that the work can essentially be extended. As such it will also cut down on the time for the state to approve plans shaving off months, if not longer of the time it will take to start putting Measure A proceeds to work.
Burke said such steps were part of the commitment the district has made to taxpayers in both bond elections to spend their tax dollars as efficiently as possible.
As things currently stand, the last round of Measure G projects from the less than $40 million left will get underway in early 2021. The district meanwhile will be doing prioritization of Measure A projects.
The goal is to have a game plan in place before the Manteca High and East Union work currently underway is completed.
“We should be able to get better (bids) given construction companies already have equipment in place,” Burke noted.
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 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.
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