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Remodeling produces more classroom space
The new Lathrop School classroom wing is behind Deputy Superintendent Clark Burke. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Manteca Unified has added the equivalent of almost another elementary school as part of its modernization effort at five campuses.
And it was done by honoring two promises to Measure G voters: No new classrooms would be built for growth and the bond money would be spent in a manner that was efficient and maximized every cent.
The remodels at Lincoln, Sequoia, Shasta, Lathrop, and Golden West schools yielded 15 additional classroom spaces.
This was accomplished in several ways:
uThe five new offices that were positioned to enhance campus security allowed the older offices to be remodeled into classrooms.
uThanks to Going Digital, computer labs per se were no longer needed so those classrooms were repurposed as general classrooms.
uSpace for pull out programs where students leave a classroom setting for more intense help in smaller groups that were adjacent to other such areas where walls could be removed were remodeled into standard classrooms.
uOther space that could be converted for pull out programs such as the old boiler room at Lincoln School that was no longer needed thanks to electric heating and cooling roof units were remodeled freeing up other space for general classrooms.
When the dust is settled, there will be a net gain of around 15 classrooms at the five schools to support upwards of 450 more students based on a 30 students per classroom ratio.
Given that a classroom can cost around $330,000 apiece when they are built in clusters of eight to 10 rooms, the additional classroom space represents a cost avoidance of just under $5 million.
The additional classroom capacity is even more cost effective given that 450 more students could ultimately be housed without the need to secure land for a school site, install infrastructure and build support facilities such as a multi-purpose room, cafeteria kitchen, library, office, parking lots, and other typical campus improvements.
Deputy Superintendent Clark Burke said staff looked for any area they could come up with 960 square feet — the minimum size required by the state for a first through eighth grade classroom — and worked it into the remodel plans.
The repurposing of other space for classrooms means the five remodels have maximized facilities.
At the same time, Manteca Unified Superintendent Jason Messer noted the condition of each portable classroom was re-evaluated. While the district was hopeful to replace all portables with permanent buildings that have a significantly longer life expectancy and lower maintenance costs when the bond measure was cobbled together, portables that could have significant more life squeezed out of them with a minimal investment were retained.
“It would have been nice to replace all of the portables but it made no sense to do so with the classroom space needs the district is facing,” Messer said.
All classrooms — whether they involved new construction to replace dilapidated portables, remodeling of aging classrooms, or other space that was converted to general classrooms — were brought up to current standards.
An example is the original classroom wings at Lincoln School. The wiring was all replaced, new cabinets installed, ceilings replaced, new plumbing for rooms with sinks, as well as new flooring. At Lincoln school, original classroom wings had linoleum flooring removed in hallways and the cement given a polished finish. Not only did that increase durability and reduce maintenance costs but it gave the 60-year-old plus building a modern, updated look.

What the district
was able to do at
Lathrop School
Of all the campus modernizations done so far using Measure G funds, perhaps none were as transformative as Lathrop School.
Prior to Measure G work the campus’ front along Fifth Street was a major hazard. There were no curbs, gutters, or sidewalks. Parking and drop off areas were blurred.
The office was away from the entrance. Portable buildings were placed in such a manner that securing the campus that is bounded on three sides by streets was difficult at best. Some interior hallways had a dingy, cramped feel to them due to a hodge podge of additions over the years.
The $10.4 million Measure G infusion provided Lathrop School with 10 new classrooms to replace the worst portables.
The front has been cleaned up with sidewalks, streets, and curbs along with separated parking and drop off zones.
There is a new main entrance with wrought iron fencing and gates along with a new office that allows the staff to monitor those who enter during the school day and after hours.
The smaller of the original multi-purpose rooms was converted into an expansive library that takes advantage of natural lighting.
Drainage and slope issues were addressed on the playground to deal with run-off effectively and to meet current Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
And it was done were care to save massive, sturdy heritage trees.
Just like with modernizations at other campuses, there were unique touches that reflect Lathrop School.
Given the school’s long involvement with student gardens, 10 elevated garden tubs were put in place. Not only are they ADA compliant but each have their own water faucet. The finishing touch was covering the surrounding area with decomposed granite.
It means the garden area will be easier to prevent weed growth and for students to work.
There is also a separate drop-off area by the multi-purpose room that can be opened and closed with new gates.
Clarke noted that once the multipurpose room is painted, the campus will have a cohesive look.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email