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Manteca housing will put pressure on Ripon schools
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The first of three subcommittees is in the process of being formed as part of the effort to develop Ripon Unified’s Facility Master Plan.

This group will come from members of the school board-approved steering committee, consisting of “people who represent all walks of the community,” said Superintendent Bill Draa at Wednesday’s Facility Master Plan community board kickoff.

The Fresno-based architects and engineers firm TETHER – representatives were Shaun Blaylock in Education and Facility Standards and Amanda Green in Facility Planning – and school facility consultant Matthew Pettler were on hand to provide suggestions to committee members on formulating the FMP.

“This is not the first time (RUSD) has attempted putting together a facility master plan,” Trustee Ernie Tyhurst. “One was presented to the board in 1997 but was never adopted. Why? I don’t know?”

Why now?

“New housing (in the Austin Road area in Manteca) is coming,” said Draa. “Education is also changing – we have to formulate the best way to educate our students, from T-K through 12th grades.”

Part of the proposed 1,049-acre Austin Road Business Park is within Ripon Unified School, District boundaries. That could generate 1,958 students for Ripon based on 58 percent of the 4,108 homes being built within the school district. The rest of the students are within Manteca Unified.

Tyhurst said that FMP is similar to that of a general plan. “It’s a blue print towards educating our students,” he noted.

How to achieve that may mean thinking outside of the box, added both Pettler and Blaylock.

Blaylock mentioned that TETER has been involved in some 35 master plans, including school districts such as Manteca, Escalon, Golden Valley, Tulare and Visalia, to name few.

“We’ve helped with the modernization (plan) at Escalon High,” Green said.

Blaylock added the first subcommittee in the works will be responsible for handling matters concerning education, instruction, growth, joint-use opportunities, and school configuration.

“Right now, (RUSD) has open enrollment,” he said. “There’s funding that might be available but may require a change to the enrollment policy.”

As for this subcommittee, Blaylock noted that those serving could be anything from six to seven, to as many as 13.

“The (steering committee) will determine the numbers,” he said. “We’re looking at a broad-based of people who can bring their own experiences and ideas to the table.”

Draa and his ad hoc group consisting of Clarisse Luis, Kathy Coleman and Tyhurst are keeping tabs on steering committee members who might be interested in serving on this subcommittee.

From there, they’ll be counted on to look at future grade level configurations coupled with the enrollment system, between now and Nov. 22.

The second subcommittee will follow. This group will be counted on reviewing and exploring the impact of housing along with financing options (namely, joint-use opportunities, Mello-Roos, developer fees, and other funding options).

The third subcommittee will be in charge of the facility needs of the district and impact of bringing in newcomers into RUSD.

“New communities are looking to join this district,” Pettler said. “We have to incorporate them (into RUSD) while still maintaining the culture of Ripon.”

Those associated with the FMP group can expect to work together from now to the beginning of August.

“Savor the adventure,” Blaylock said. “You’re doing something that’s not been done in Ripon – enjoy it.”

Tyhurst, in addition, indicated that the board could later look at two or more of the configurations by the time it comes to drafting a plan. “It could be important that we have some options,” he said.