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River Islands school will use tablet computers not textbooks
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LATHROP - Traditional text books are old school.

You may not find a single one in sight when a cutting edge elementary campus rising from ground that once raised watermelons on Stewart Tract is completed in 1½ years.

That’s because plans for the school designed to take full advantage of the latest technology in both the building design and support infrastructure will allow teachers to employ tablet computers instead of old-fashioned textbooks.

The Banta Elementary School District campus is the first to be built as part of the 4,800-acre River Islands at Lathrop. The project eventually will have 11,000 homes. The school is targeted to open in August 2013 most likely as a charter school.

“We are really excited,” said Banta Superintendent Bill Draa. “Our district is 132 years old and we have about 300 students currently. This construction will triple our current student population and serve as an excellent resource for children.”

Groundbreaking for the new campus takes Wednesday at 3 p.m. at ceremonies hosted by both the Banta School District and River Islands.

Cambay Group - the developers of River islands - is picking up the $12.5 million local match to secure an equal amount of state funding to build the $25 million school. The investors also are footing the bill for $5 million worth of infrastructure - streets, sidewalks, sewer, and water - to serve the campus.

The $25 million will pay to build half of the planned campus. The first phase will accommodate 750 kindergarten through eighth grade students. It includes 25 classrooms, a multipurpose room, and ball fields. The 30-acre site will eventually accommodate 1,500 students. . The campus ultimately will consist of two schools in a kindergarten through fifth grade configuration and a sixth through eighth grade facility.

It was designed by HMC Architects of Sacramento and is being built by Sacramento-based Sundt Construction.

River Islands ultimately will have six elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school. The first campus is likely to open as a charter school since no homes are expected to have been built in River Islands by the time it is completed. Also, Banta has no major development elsewhere in its district. The targeted student body for the charter school will be students in the Tracy, Lathrop, and Manteca area.

The campus will make River Islands an extreme rarity in California housing development circles as it would actually have a school built and paid for before the first house is even sold.

It is the latest in a long line of bold and long-range moves Cambay Group has made at River Islands.

•They are financing and currently building a $17 million initial two-lane bridge across the San Joaquin River from the Mossdale Crossing section of Lathrop west of Interstate 5.

•Water for the project has already been secured.

•Flood issues were addressed by certain the first mega-levees in the Central Valley that are 300 feet wide

•The company has formed the Lathrop Irrigation District that will supply electricity to future residents and businesses at rates up to 25 percent below PG&E.

The River Islands project is on Stewart Tract west of Dell’Osso Family Farms Pumpkin Maze off Interstate 5 just south of the San Joaquin River.

The new school will be about a mile beyond the pumpkin maze midway between there and where the bridge is now under construction. That bridge will not be 100 percent finished. The bridge deck won’t be connected to roads on either side and instead will be left as a canopy across the river until such time housing construction starts.

 River Islands is a project that is now 22 years in the making. It originally started out as Gold Rush City. It became known as River Islands in 2001 when Cambay bought all 4,800 acres.

Cambay Group’s long-term commitment is almost legendary. Their San Ramon project of 10,000 homes on 5,000 acres took 17 years from the time of inception to the first home being built.