A solution to housing the avalanche of students expected from 9,779 homes —including 8,312 homes south of the 120 Bypass —in various stages of approval in Manteca is buried at Lincoln School.
It is also buried at Sequoia School, Shasta School, Lathrop School, and Golden West School.
Measure G bond modernization, infrastructure, and safety designs have been adopted in such a fashion that Manteca Unified at a future date could use school fees collected on new development to build a cluster or wing of classrooms at existing campuses.
While none of the $159 million in Measure G bond money will be spent on the envisioned classrooms, projects have advanced in such manner it would be relatively easy to build classrooms in the future.
The Measure G plans approved by the state allow for the future classrooms. At the time the district needs to move forward, they would just need to submit construction plans to the state.
It is part of an overall strategy the district is advancing if — as one school official put it — “the city and developers keep playing games” and don’t get new homes being built especially south of the 120 Bypass into a Mello-Roos district.
Deputy Superintendent Clark Burke indicated it is in the realm of possibilities that 4,000 to 6,000 additional students generated from growth could be housed by adding on to existing schools and making use of existing district property.
Such a scenario could mean all 8,312 homes currently envisioned to be built south of the 120 Bypass could be put in place with few if any new campuses in or around the future neighborhoods.
“We will house students wherever we have space,” Burke said.
Districtwide Manteca Unified is looking at all existing campuses to add at least one cluster of classrooms. The clusters vary between eight and 10 classrooms. Such a strategy would increase the capacity of campuses such as Lincoln School by almost 300 students. The potential future cluster at Lincoln School is designed to go on the southern edge of the campus that is being resigned to face Powers Avenue. Most Manteca Unified elementary schools are designed for 600 students while several larger ones can accommodate 900 students.
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With 30 existing campuses the district could easily accommodate 4,000 to 6,000 students.
But that isn’t the only options Burke said that are on the table.
The old Yosemite School campus where Manteca Day School is now located on West Yosemite Avenue is “substantially underutilized.” Burke said that could easily become an elementary school.
There is also the option of building on the old Lathrop Annex campus across from Lathrop Elementary.
Burke noted the district — if needed — could look at relocating the alterative continuation school program at Calla High from its Austin Road/East Highway 120 campus into new buildings at the Lathrop Annex site. The existing Calla campus could be replaced with a highs school campus for upwards of 500 students that would not be designed as carbon copy of the three last full-scale campuses to be built at Sierra, Weston Ranch, and Lathrop.
And instead of shifting attendance boundaries that would uproot students within walking distance of campuses, Burke said new students are most likely to be bused where there is space to house them. That means students from future homes south from the 120 Bypass could end up being bused as far away as Weston Ranch.
While that would not be a plus for builders selling homes, Burke said given the options that Manteca Unified currently has it may be the best way to accommodate growth short of year round school and double sessions.
Not only do the homes moving forward south of the 120 Bypass lack two of the three funding mechanisms critical to build elementary campuses that cost at least $25 million and high school campuses $120 million to build, but the school sites the district has south of the 120 Bypass such as the high school site on Tinnin Road lack available infrastructure such as sewer, water and storm drain lines to connect with.
Burke said that means the district would have the added “big expense” of extending infrastructure
“That’s not an issue at existing schools,” Burke said.
The only money source the district has to build new housing for students generated by future homes south of the 120 Bypass is development fees that are sometimes called bedroom taxes. The other two sources are Mello-Roos taxes and bond money.
Burke said the development fees could build a permanent classroom cluster as opposed to portable classrooms for $2 million to $3 million as opposed to $25 million for a full-scale campus. Support facilities such as multi-purpose rooms, libraries and offices are already in place at existing campuses.
Development fees can also be used to purchase school buses that could be used to transport future south Manteca students as far as 14 miles one way to existing schools.
Burke noted the district has an obligation to house students and not necessarily build new campuses where growth is taking place. Having only development fees limits the district to either housing future students by expanding existing classes or resorting to double session or tear round schools.
Having a Mello-Roos district in place south of the 120 Bypass would reduce the need to increase student capacity at existing schools as it gives the district the finances needed t pursue other options.
At the end of the day Burke said Manteca Unified “will house” new students.