In one scenario, Manteca High School would be two stories with a rebuilt tower, regulation athletic facilities, a cafeteria capable of serving as a rain shelter and better overall security for students.
And it would all sit on one campus – not separated by Garfield Avenue like it is today.
Whether those dreams can be realized on a budget of just over $32 million in modernization funds approved by voters, however, remains to be seen.
On Tuesday a coalition of students, staff, parents and alumni and the greater business community brainstormed their ideas on what they would like to see included in Manteca Unified’s overall plan to renovate and modernize the district’s oldest high school – regarded by many to be the “flagship” campus of a district that serves 25,000 students.
And that flagship is showing signs of its age and size nearly a century of serving the community that bears its name. Nearly at capacity – with 1,589 of 1,737 current spaces filled – the aging campus, which will be called on to serve an even larger body of students if current growth projections hold true, is plagued by facilities that were never designed to accommodate the number of students that call the campus home today. The school’s large gymnasium, for example, can only house one-third of the student body at any given time, and the school’s cafeteria is too small to hold the number of students on rainy days who are trying to find shelter.
While help is on the way in the form of $32 million made possible by the $159 million Measure G modernization bond that was approved by voters, where to spend that money is the issue that is facing the district as it reaches out to those who have a stake in the school’s future configuration.
“I think that the district administration and the school board had a lot of foresight in asking for input from all of the various groups in the community on this,” said retired Manteca High School Principal Steve Winter. “I think that this effort shows a commitment by the district to make Manteca High School the best place possible.”
Winter, who facilitated a group of parents and concerned alumni, helped brainstorm a flurry of ideas that were given during a series of exercises aimed at narrowing the focus of district administrators who will ultimately make a proposal to the school board that will forever chance the campus’ future. In the eyes of the parents and alumni, the three things that the school doesn’t currently have but needs are regulation facilities – the pool, the basketball court, the softball diamond and the tennis courts, according to the group, are not regulation size – as well as better campus security and the rebuilding of the tower in front of the school.
And there was overlap in some of the groups who shared their ideas. Students who attended the meeting agreed with the parents and alumni that a larger gym and a pool was a priority – their top pick – but also called for a larger cafeteria so that everybody can be inside when it’s raining, and more convenient parking.
The parking issue was also addressed by the faculty when coming up with a list of what the campus would need if it were to serve upwards of 2,500 students, as predicted – calling for the construction of a parking structure that can accommodate the increase in the number of students and staff required to serve them.
Another item that was discussed was the need for multiple-story classroom buildings that would be required to serve the 2,500 students that could become reality in the future. While that would make Manteca High School the largest school in the district, it would present an interesting conundrum because the footprint of the campus is the smallest of the five high schools in Manteca Unified and the campus itself is landlocked with little to no possible growth opportunity.
The brainstorming session will continue inside of the cafeteria on Thursday at 7 p.m. to allow for more input from the community that was unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting.
While the $32 million set aside for Manteca High School renovations and modernization – which could take up to four years to complete because of the school’s place in line behind other schools requiring more urgent safety upgrades – wouldn’t come close to building the sort of long-range upgrades that were brainstormed, the district is hoping to gather input from the community on long-term funding solutions through growth fees that could generate the funding necessary.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.