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Nile Garden facing major expansion
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One of the last two remaining “country  schools” in Manteca Unified could change drastically in the next few years.
With more than 1,000 housing units expected to be completed south of the Highway 120 Bypass in the next five years, Manteca Unified administrators are asking the Board of Education to consider a proposal that would expand the enrollment at Nile Garden Elementary School to 1,000 students in order to accommodate the massive influx of growth.
Lincoln Elementary School is also included in the proposal, and Joshua Cowell Elementary School – which will also be impacted by the coming development in the area – is being examined more closely to determine whether it will help serve the goal of housing students in a district that will soon be bursting at the seams.
While the details of the proposal and the cost associated with increasing the enrollment at the sites is not yet available, some of the changes that could be in store for Nile Garden include:
uThe addition of a new parking lot to accommodate the additional parents stemming from the addition of roughly 200 more students to the campus. Trustee Nancy Teicheira – whose area includes Nile Garden – pointed out that when school began this year, parents were parking as far away as Oleander and walking along the rural Nile Road to get their students to their respective classrooms.
uAdditional buildings to accommodate the students, and a new multipurpose room similar to other elementary schools in the district that have a combined gymnasium and multipurpose room to serve the student body.
But Nile Garden won’t be the only school affected if the recommendations made on Tuesday at a board study session are adopted when the district’s governing body meets next month.
With massive growth also expected in the next five years in Lathrop, district administration is recommending that the board also proceed with the first segment of the long-announced Ethel Allen Elementary School as part of an incremental elementary transition facility. Rather than building the elementary school all at once, which would eat significantly into the roughly $75 million the district currently has available for growth upgrades at all of the sites needed to meet capacity expansion, the initial proposal is to construct a K-3 wing that would serve the roughly 400 students that would be located at the site, and then add the 4-6 wing and a multipurpose room followed by the seventh and eighth grade classrooms.
While the Nile Garden and Lincoln expansion could be completed in roughly a year – aided by the fact that a school already exists at both sites – it will take three years before the first phase of Ethel Allen is up and running.
And elementary schools aren’t the only sites that are going to be facing a crush of new students.
Because the majority of the high school age students located in the largest swath of new development will within Manteca High School’s boundaries, the district is asking the board to increase the school’s capacity to 2,200 students – making it by far the largest in the district once it reaches that level. Meetings have already been held with the community to determine what a school of that size would look like on the existing footprint – the smallest of Manteca Unified’s five high schools – and the district has been talking with the City of Manteca about options that could provide even more additional space for expansion to accommodate the new configuration.
Because the scope of the work has not yet been identified and the design process hasn’t begun, the cost of doing so is currently unknown, but the campus is slated to receive millions of dollars worth of modernization funds through the Measure G bond initiative approved by voters.
Administration officials made the increased capacity recommendation in lieu of constructing a new high school south of the Bypass almost purely for financial reasons – the cost of which would be roughly double the amount of money that the district has to invest in the projects themselves.
The board will discuss the recommendations and any other possible plans or adjustments when they meet again on Tuesday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Manteca Unified School District Administration Building on Louise Avenue. 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email jcampbell@mantecabulletin.com or call 209.249.3544.