Let there be light.
While the general attitude at the Manteca School Board study session Tuesday night at the Dorothy Mulvihill Performing Arts Theater at Manteca High was that they’d love to have a synthetic turf field, the prevailing attitude amongst faculty, coaches and alumni also hinted at a list of other issues that need to be addressed first.
The lighting at Guss Schmiedt Field was included on that list.
According to one man in attendance that was tapped by head football coach Eric Reis to bring a lighting-consulting firm in to test the stadium lights, the illumination of the field is far below what is considered standard in modern American stadiums.
Based on the information that was provided to the team by engineers from Musco Lighting, the on-field measurement that is considered acceptable is 30 candle-feet. Guss Schmiedt Field, which was erected in 1959, measures at 8 candle-feet – 25 percent of what it should be.
But it wasn’t the only athletic facility that received complaints.
According to Jim Rachels, a Manteca High alum and local businessman, the Dr. Robert C. Winter Gymnasium court is 10 feet shorter than a regulation basketball court, and the distance between the baseline and the wall is less than six feet – something that became crucial when a player was injured two weeks ago after slamming into it.
Not even the son of the man who the gym is named after – former Manteca High Principal Steve Winter – thinks that it’s an acceptable complex anymore.
According to Winter, who also has his name on the school’s smaller, six-lane pool behind the gymnasium, he’d be the first person to call for it to be razed and rebuilt according to modern standards. He said he’d also be the first person to call for the pool to be filled in.
The length of the playing surface wasn’t the only issue that people brought up with the gymnasium either.
Last week when Weston Ranch came to play Manteca High in a Valley Oak League title showdown, the doors were actually locked more than an hour before the game began because the gym had reached its 600-person capacity.
While Manteca High is the largest high schools in the district in terms of enrollment, it also sits on the smallest piece of land. According to Vice Principal and Athletic Director Bill Slikker, Manteca High sits on only 32.44 acres compared to the 40.69 acres at East Union, the 46 acres at Sierra, the 50 acres at Lathrop, and the 52 acres at Weston Ranch. Field space is also at a premium with football and soccer teams sharing the plot of grass across from the main campus, and even using the baseball outfield for practices because the teams are so closely packed in.
Those complaints were on top of the laundry list of issues raised by teachers that included a borderline unsafe and dilapidated performing arts building, aging and failing bathrooms, pest infestation and security concerns by teachers that have to watch students walk across Garfield Avenue to get to other classes and to participate in PE activities.
The consulting firm hired by Measure G supporters to run the campaign to get the $159 million bond passed in November 2014 emphasized it would dress health and safety issues first and foremost.
District officials have indicated some of the issues raised at Tuesday’s meeting appear to be deferred maintenance issues that could be addressed ahead of the modernization of the campus.