Ripon Unified is now being impacted by new home construction in Manteca.
And Ripon Unified Superintendent Ziggy Robeson said she wants to open talks with Manteca city leaders to make sure new homes that they approve will pay their fair share toward covering the costs of building additional schools in the district of 3,100 students.
Orchard Park home buyers in the Meritage Homes neighborhood being built in South Manteca along Mono Street as well as the southern end of Pillsbury Road and Buena Vista Drive are within a two block walking distance of Woodward School that is part of the Manteca Unified School District. But since the 252 homes are being built in Ripon Unified it means students are being bused six miles away to Ripon High and its feeder elementary schools.
At build-out, the 252 homes could generate 260 students or almost a ninth of Ripon Unified’s existing enrollment. Because of the Manteca development along with new homes being built in Ripon north of River Road and east of Mistlin Sports Park, Ripon Unified is now experiencing enrollment gains after years of declining enrollment.
And while a 252 home subdivision would have minimal impact of Manteca Unified with 23,000 students as it would expand enrollment by just over 1.4 percent, it represents nearly a 10 percent growth for Ripon Unified. That is a major impact.
Robeson, who indicated the working relationship between the City of Manteca a and Ripon Unified has been less than optimum echoed concerns expressed by Manteca Unified School District Superintendent Jason Messer that adequate steps aren’t being taken to assure schools can handle growth taking place in South Manteca. In the case of Manteca Unified, Messer said that could mean year round schools at some point in the near future for students south of the 120 Bypass.
Meritage Homes is just the start off what could be an onslaught of new homes being built within the City of Manteca city limits where students would attend Ripon Unified.
Some of the homes in subdivisions along the future extension of Atherton Drive just south of Woodward Avenue also will be in Ripon Unified as are 800 homes that Richland has discussed building on the former Hat Ranch property where the 30,000-square-foot Hat Mansion stands just south of Pillsbury Road.
And while there is no current project moving forward, the approved 1,049-acre Austin Road Business Park includes 2,258 traditional single family homes and 1,840 multi-family units that are projected to generate 1,983 students. Of those, 58 percent would live within the boundaries of the Ripon Unified School District. It would take two kindergarten through eighth grade schools and 16 new high school classrooms to accommodate the students at full build-out of the project.
If the Austin Road homes and all others that Manteca has approved or is considering maps for within its city limits but are part of Ripon Unified are built it would generate half of the number of students now enrolled in Ripon schools.
Robeson said the school district needs to explore all feasible funding mechanism for new school construction including Mello-Roos districts with both the Ripon City Council and the Manteca City Council.
Ripon Unified boundaries butt up against Manteca Unified a half mile west of South Manteca Road starting at the Stanislaus River until a point a quarter of a mile north of West Ripon Road. It then runs to the east before turning north along the center of Alice Road to a point a quarter of mile north of Sedan Avenue. It then turns three times to take in the southern and western edges of the Orchard Park neighborhood before heading eastward again in what would be the alignment of Peach Avenue if it were extended eastward across Highway 99. It then turns north running a mile west of North Ripon Road until it reaches French Camp Road.