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RIPON GAME CHANGER?
Manteca growth will impact Ripon classrooms
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Manteca is expected to add 4,401 homes over the next 10 years.

And that could crowd Ripon Unified classrooms and significantly alter the character of the unified school district.

That’s because upwards of 1,400 of those homes expected to be built within Manteca’s city limits will actually end up in the Ripon Unified district and not Manteca Unified. It would mean those students are likely to be bused for a number of years to elementary schools in and around Ripon until such time funding was available and enough students resided in what is the extreme northwest corner of the Ripon Unified School District. High school students would likely always be bused into Ripon.

Concerns about the potential impact on Ripon Schools of planned Manteca housing developments was raised by Ripon Unified trustee and retired City of Ripon planning director Ernie Tyhurst during Tuesday’s Manteca City Council public hearing on the housing element.

The approved 1,049-acre Austin Road Business Park development project envisioned south of Manteca and west of Highway 99 is projected to generate 13,000 jobs and up to 10,200 residents.

It is also expected to create a need to educate up to 1,983 students with 58 percent of that number anticipated to 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.

A development agreement — which is not hammered out yet — will ultimately address future school sites and how the developers will help soften the impact on both the Ripon Unified and Manteca Unified school districts.

It marks the first time that a project proposed for the City of Manteca will directly impact Ripon Unified.

The phasing of the projects calls for the initial two waves of development to concentrate exclusively on industrial, business park, and general commercial uses. That gives both school districts some breathing room.

The initial houses are at least five to 10 years away.

Manteca Unified has prepared for future growth south of the Highway 120 Bypass by securing the site for a fourth comprehensive high school within the City of Manteca on Tinnin Road. That puts all of the potential housing that Austin Road Business Park developers will build in Manteca’s city limits within 2.5 miles of the future high school.

The project will straddle Austin Road as it runs south toward a point several miles north of West Ripon Road. It will require the southern extension of Atherton Drive.