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Warns city of year round schools, busing students to Stockton
Future students south of the 120 Bypass may be bused to schools as far away as Southwest Stockton. - photo by HIME ROMERO/Bulletin file

Manteca Unified has put the City of Manteca on notice: The school district opposes new housing development south of the 120 Bypass.
The City Council was informed of the school board approved position Tuesday hours after Gov. Jerry Brown told educators in Sacramento he would not allow state school bonds approved by voters last month to be sold during his final two years in office.
District Business Manager Jacqui Breitenbucher used what had been expected to be an uneventful council agenda item to approve a routine subdivision improvement agreement for the 69-lot Evans states Unit No. 5 located along South Main north of Sedan Avenue to relay the district’s position.
Breitenbucher said the district will oppose any subdivision proposed that isn’t annexed into a Mello Roos district due to “insufficient funds” to build new schools. The opposition to new subdivisions is specifically limited to south of the 120 Bypass given it is not only expected to be the fastest growing area in Manteca Unified with some 8,312 homes in various stages of the approval process within the school district’s boundaries but it is also the only area were the vast majority of the projects are not in a Mello Roos district. There are actually 9,779 homes moving forward in the coming years south of the 120 Bypass but those homes are being built within the Ripon Unified School District.
The district expects 80 percent of its growth in the coming years will take pace south of the 120 Bypass.

Home buyers will be
told their students
could be bused as far
away as Stockton
The school district will make it clear to new home buyers south of the 120 Bypass that students moving into new homes will likely be bused to Lathrop, Weston Ranch in Stockton, French Camp or other areas of Manteca where there may be space left at specific grade levels. That doesn’t mean if there are two elementary aged children in a new home they will even go to the same school given most campuses are at or near capacity of many of their grade levels. With 24,000 students, Manteca Unified schools are at 96 percent capacity based on programmed class sizes. District officials have said based on housing projects moving forward Manteca Unified could increase enrollment by 25 percent by the end of 2020 by adding 6,000 more students.
At the same time the district will now tell buyers — and inform existing residents — that year round school likely will be next after the district runs out of space. Based on growth in Manteca alone, the district may hit capacity within the next two years.
Year round would not be implemented districtwide.  It would initially involve Woodward and Veritas schools and possibly Nile Garden given they are south of the 120 Bypass.
As the need for space grows with more homes built, year round schedules could migrate north to schools immediately north of the 120 Bypass at campuses such as Brock Elliott, Lincoln, and Sequoia schools.
Breitenbucher is already working with builder D.H. Horton to craft a disclosure statement for their prospective buyers that children who occupy the homes they are building  may not attend a neighborhood school and could be bused 16 or more miles away to Southwest Stockton where the district has schools in the Weston Ranch community.
Breitenbucher said she is in the process of contacting each individual builder and developer to apprise them of the situation.
Traditionally the cost of new schools — $25 million for an elementary and more than $140 million for a high school — have been covered by splitting the cost three ways. Those entail square footage fees assessed on new homes, Mello-Roos districts s or some type of funding mechanism provided by builders, and either local or state school bonds or both.

Brown’s decision
 threatens $23 million
to reimburse MUSD
for Measure G work
Brown’s decision to withhold the sale of the bonds creates two major funding dilemmas for Manteca Unified. It may mean they won’t get reimbursed $23 million of the $56.4 million they are spending from the local Measure G bond of $159 million to improve safety and upgrades at Lincoln, Sequoia, Golden West, Lathrop, and Shasta schools. That would significantly impact modernization efforts left on the district’s list.
It also likely will mean there is no state funding coming for new schools either.
Breitenbucher noted that even adding portables can be problematic as the state requires a set amount of square foot per student for playgrounds and fields.
That said the district has started looking at options of adding permanent classrooms to existing campuses in the district where they can using Mello-Roos and development fees given they will lack the funds to build needed campuses from scratch. The strategy, should it be pursued eliminates the need to develop costly infrastructure for a new campus as well as put in place big expenses such as multipurpose buildings.

Homes now being built
only cover a third the
cost of housing a student
Several developers have opted to move forward building homes south of the 120 Bypass without Mello-Roos districts or replacement funding meaning only development fees are paid.  When a home is built in a Mello-Roos district the schools are provided with roughly two thirds of the cost of providing facilities to house students. Without Mello-Roos districts Manteca Unified only receives roughly 33 cents for every dollar that is needed to build schools to handle growth.
Under California law school districts for years have not be able to essentially say they would not serve new developments unless funding is made available.
What they can do — and Superintendent Jason Messer has made it clear that they will — is conduct a high profile public information effort so buyers of  new homes know they can expect their children not to attend neighborhood schools but be bused out of their community as well as face year round school.
Governor Brown did not support putting the school bond on the ballot. He has signaled for more than a year that he had concerns whether it was wise to pursue indebtedness for schools at the state level when there are big ticket items to borrow for such as the Twin Tunnels in the Delta and high speed rail. Those are two projects Brown is seeking to build his legacy upon.
The governor has also expressed that the state paying for schools may be growth inducing. Home builders aggressively backed the state bond measure.
Breitenbucher noted the real possibility exists that almost all of the $9 billion approved as part of Proposition 51 will go to Los Angeles Unified that has a severe backlog of modernization and safety issues to address. While some money may go to reimburse districts such as Manteca Unified for their modernization projects, many educators in the growing regions of Inland California believe none of the bond money will ever be spent on new schools needed to house growth.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email