Levee protection may not play as big a role in deciding the next elementary campus to be built in Manteca Unified as opposed to whether Manteca has a Mello-Roos district in place to finance new school construction.
Manteca Unified Superintendent Jason Messer made it clear the ball is in the court of Manteca developers and the City of Manteca to form a community facilities district sooner than later if they want any additional schools built south of the 120 Bypass.
“Parents buying new homes have the expectation there will be schools nearby,” Messer said.
But without a Mello-Roos district when schools get significant student growth from new homes being built south off the 120 Bypass, Ethel Allen School in Lathrop will be built first and filled with students bused as far as 10 miles away.
“We already have a community facilities district in place in Lathrop to build Ethan Allen,” Messer said. “It doesn’t matter if the two (elementary sites) in southwest Manteca) get flood protection, Ethan Allen would have both funding and flood protection.”
Proposed levee upgrades coming in at $168 million with provide 200-year flood protection to all of Lathrop and southwest Manteca that are part of the floodplain as well as Weston Ranch.
Messer said the district is monitoring city progress on the dry levee — basically a back-up to the main levees on both the Stanislaus and San Joaquin rivers — as well as the proposed Raymus Expressway when it comes to determining the alignment of both.
Messer stressed, however, the district will not take a position on either one.
“When we need to build a new school (due to student growth) where there is a funding mechanism in place will determine where it will go,” Messer said.
Manteca Unified has three school sites south of the 120 Bypass including two — Terra near McKinley Avenue and Rustic southeast of Airport Way and Peach Avenue — set aside for elementary campuses. The third is 56 acres for a sixth comprehensive high school that may also include a new campus for Calla High much like how Weston Ranch and New Vision High are joined. Both Calla and New Vision are continuation high schools.
The 56-acre high school site is along Tinnin Road. In today’s dollars it would cost at least $140 million to build a campus for 1,500 students that is similar to size to the district’s five existing high schools.
Deputy Superintendent Clark Burke noted the $159 million bond measure passed in November 2014 includes no money for new school construction. It is going to health, safety and modernization projects at all of the district’s existing 30 schools. There is a possibility that Calla High — if the costs are too high to accomplish what was promised under the bond language — could end up being rebuilt as a new campus on the Tinnin Road site using some of the bond money.
Messer noted that modernization projects at Nile Garden School — the only existing Manteca area campus in the floodplain — will not be impacted one way or another by where the cross levee is placed. The state Department of Architecture — the ultimate authority over school facilities — has no issues with planned modernization of the campus.
Water reached the edge of the campus in 1997 during a 100-year flood event but did not reach any structures or improvements.
Lathrop High is the only campus in Lathrop or Weston Ranch that isn’t in the 100-year floodplain as it was elevated by building up dirt. It isn’t clear whether it is inside or outside the 200-year floodplain.