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S. Manteca likely site for next school
Students are shown on the first day of classes at Nile Garden School. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

The next new school to be built in Manteca Unified will in all likelihood be built south of Woodward Avenue.

“That is where the bulk of our growth is taking place,” Manteca Unified School District Superintendent Jason Messer said.

There are currently five projects where developers are preparing ground or building homes actively south of Woodward Avenue.

Messer said the most likely locations for an elementary school are the Rustic and Terra sites south of the 120 Bypass. Rustic is near Airport Way and Fig Avenue while Terra is near McKinley and Woodward avenues. The district also owns a high school site on Tinnin Road. 

Currently the district is concentrating on modernization projects under the $150 million bond voters approved in November 2014. Messer said language allows for bond money to be used on existing school sites of which the designated school sites qualify.

However, Messer said the district still has capacity at existing campuses thanks to class size reduction being peeled back as a cost savings move during the Great Recession. That extra capacity, however, will start going away even without growth as the district is slowly bringing back class size reduction.

There had been pressure to start movement toward development the Ethel Allen elementary campus west of Interstate 5 in Lathrop. The opening of the River Islands Technology Academy two years ago lured hundreds of district students in the Mossdale area in West Lathrop effective taking pressure off of the existing Mossdale School.

As for the construction of the district’s fifth comprehensive high school, that could still be a number of years into the future. That’s because the existing campuses in Manteca — East Union, Sierra, and Manteca — could easily accommodate hundreds of more students.

“Sierra High, as an example, in the past has had a much larger enrollment,’ Messer said.

Building a high school today can easily surpass $100 million. Manteca’s cost would be lower since they already have secured the land for a high school campus.

The growth in Manteca has made the district’s two rural schools — Nile Garden and New Haven — more critical than ever. Classrooms at the two campuses are filled with students bused from city subdivisions.

Given the cost of building new elementary school has a price range of $30 million to $40 million, Deputy Superintendent Clark Burke noted it wouldn’t be financially wise to replace either school with a new campus elsewhere in the district.