There’s no debate that Manteca High is an aging campus in need of modernization.
And while upgrading and reconfiguring the 96-year-old campus — the oldest in the district — is on the table, very little of what is needed will be done with money from the $159 million Measure G bond voters approved in November 2014.
There are two reasons for that, as Manteca Unified Assistant Superintendent Clark Burke points out.
uThe bond language approved by voters calls for addressing health, safety and modernization issues at all 30 campuses.
uA major revamp of Manteca High will be expensive. The extreme makeover at Tracy High, as an example, came in at $90 million.
“There’s just not enough bond money,” Burke said.
Burke added that projects for the 30 schools as outlined are expected to come in at $170 million, some $11 million more the authorized bond amount. The district is working to secure additional money by doing projects first that would put it in line for the state school building reimbursement program. That program is currently frozen and has a backlog of $2 billion of projects that are eligible for reimbursement statewide.
Burke noted modernization work had been previously down at Manteca and East Union high school campuses. By putting the two high schools in the third tier, the needed time will have elapsed between the last request for state money so that the district can use funds from Sacramento to augment bond money for work at the campuses
As for fears money will run out from the bond before Manteca High along with East Union is reached in the third of five planned waves of construction, Burke noted funding has been methodically allocated to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Some argue the need is greatest at Manteca High so therefore it should get the bulk of the money. Again, Burke said the bond measure was designed to address issues at all 30 schools.
Superintendent Jason Messer said that there are issues at all schools. He noted August Knodt Elementary School that opened almost 30 years ago and is a relatively new campus, has issues connected with age in terms of functionality , safety, and maintenance.
Messer said what will happen in the next year or so at Manteca High is creating a vision of what the campus ultimately will look like when a complete overhaul is done. That’s because whatever ends up being done in 2017 or 2018 to the campus will be the start of an ongoing modernization effort.
And to determine the best game plan to accomplish that, Messer and Burke both stressed that “everything is on the table” regarding the 32.49 acre campus that is 20 acres smaller than the district’s largest campus at Weston Ranch High yet has the highest enrollment.
Among things that are being explored, as an example, but may not happen are:
Weighing two-story buildings for classrooms to maximize available land.
Weighing relocating the front entrance of the campus to Moffat Boulevard,
Taking steps to acquire additional land that may also involve working with the city to gain ownership of Garfield Avenue that currently cuts the campus in two.
To that end, the district over the years slowly bought houses on Garfield near Mikesell Street as they became available. That allowed the situation today where the street — with city permission — can be closed to traffic during the day for student safety. They also have recently purchased property along Moffat that is contiguous to the campus.
There are $56.4 million worth or projects in the first wave of Measure G bond projects that cover Lincoln, Lathrop, Sequoia, Golden West, and Shasta schools.
The staff is expected to recommend to the school board in the coming months to authorize work to start in earnest on plans for Neil Hafley, French Camp, George McParland, New Haven and Nile Garden schools.
Manteca High and East Union High will be in the third grouping of schools targeted for 2017.