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$60M bond assessed on homes south of the bypass would give angry SW Manteca parents ‘their’ school
river islands ihgh
River Islands homeowners are paying the maximum in local property taxes to get their high school built. Shown is a rendering of River Islands High. The first phase is targeted for completion in August.

They’re angry.

They’re new homebuyers.

Not just use any buyers.

They have related they are “well-informed” buyers,

And they’re not just any homes.

They are homes in the 200-year floodplain.

The portion located in southwest Manteca.

They are paying some of the highest — if not the highest — tax rate in the city.

First, there’s the 1 percent property tax rate.

There are the usual community facilities district (CFD) fees for neighborhood park, lighting, and common landscaping that the city collects.

Some are even paying the new community facilities district fee for public safety.

The price of their home includes the usual growth fees.

Plus, there is the $3,145 fee they pay that nobody else pays.

It covers their decision to deliberately locate in a floodplain.

It is collapsed into the price of their home.

Now for a dirty little secret that shouldn’t really be that secret for well-informed buyers like they say they are.

The $3,145 they are paying upfront as part of their home’s price and the property tax the city has agreed to forgo for the next 30 plus years won’t be enough to cover their home’s pro-rated share of $280 million of levee work mandated by the state to protect their families and investment.

But that’s not what they are angry about.

It’s because like more than half of the homeowners in Manteca they also pay a CFD imposed by the Manteca Unified School District for school facilities.

They act as if they have been swindled even though the money is being spent to accommodate students the new neighborhoods are generated,

That’s because the folks selling them their homes told them there are plans for an elementary school nearby.

And they want “that” school built now.

They’ve seen the sites that the district acquired roughly two decades ago that are referred to as Tara, Rustic and Tinnin.

They want “their” school built.

They’ve told that to the Manteca City Council.

The council has nothing to do with school construction.

They have been told by the council to go see the school board.

Elected city leaders conveniently leave off the part about how they are the ones that made it possible to build homes that are creating the facilities capacity issue for the school district.

In their defense, they would probably point out state law gives them no choice but to allow homes to be built as long as reasonable conditions the city imposes are met.

In saying so, the City Council would be right.

The buyers keep telling the school board they want “their” school built.

The board keeps telling them that there is no money to build “their” school per se and that the district is essentially working to maximum the financial cards they’ve been dealt to accommodate growth within the 113 square-mile MUSD boundaries where enrollment has already surpassed 25,000.

It has been explained the annual fees they are paying along with those that bought before them in CFD District 5 south of the 120 Bypass will, accumulatively, cover about 20 to 25 percent of the cost of school space needed for students generated per dwelling unit built.

Add growth fees paid when permits are issued that are collapsed into the price they pay for a new home and you’re getting close to 50 percent or so.

The rest supposedly comes from the state.

The school board may or may not have told them that in order to collect CFD fees that don’t come near to providing needed funds,  the state capped how much can be collected in growth fees from developers.

It was all done in the name of keeping housing affordable.

The state wasn’t thinking of the need to actually have 100 percent of the money needed to build a school.

Sacramento is lousy at connecting the dots.

Back to the “three school sites.”

MUSD is actually starting to develop one of them.

An early education center that will have kindergarten and transitional kindergarten at the Tinnin site designed to serve the angry homebuyers and others south of the 120 Bypass.

By the way, existing residents in CFD District 5 aren’t in a tizzy over the fact a high school has not been built on the Tinnin Road site even though that was the original vision back in 2004 when the property was bought.

You don’t hear them squawking about their kids having to go to Manteca High or Sierra High, both which require crossing the 120 Bypass via freeway overpasses or an underpass.

River Islands at Lathrop, which is part of the Banta Unified District, managed to build a school before home sales started and has been doing a good job since to try to stay ahead of the curve.

The reason is simple.

The homeowners in River Islands pay significantly more in CFD fees than those in Manteca.

As a result, an $800,000 home in River Islands essentially has maxed out basic property tax taxes of 2 percent that equates to $16,000 a year.

That compares to 1 percent in Manteca with some add ons via piecemeal CFDs that do not match River Islands’ max.

A few years back when planning was underway for the first phase of River Islands High targeted to open in August, residents at the time wanted a full-scale football stadium on campus.

They were presented with two options based on available funds.

Option 1: The developers would build an off-campus stadium designed for robust community use for non-sporting events as well which would not be taken from money needed to build the new high school.

Option 2: The full-scale football stadium would be built at the high school if the community voted to bond itself to do so. Voter approved bonds can be added to property assessments beyond the 2 percent cap under Proposition 13.

Guess what option residents took when they found out if they wanted the on-campus stadium, they’d have to pay for it by increasing their tax burden?

It was No. 1.

With that in mind, if the new homeowners in southwest Manteca want to make sure they get “their” school then they should ask the school board to put a bond measure on the November ballot.

Sorry, but the existing $260 million bond measure voters approved in 2020 was designed to modernize existing schools that have close to $600 million in identified needs.

What would such a bond look like?

First of all, a new school as in “their” school will cost in the neighborhood of $60 million

Given, it’s highly unlikely anyone north of the 120 Bypass would vote for such a bond for obvious reasons, it would need to be restricted to CFD District 5.

The district now has the ability to issue bonds for $30 million identified already for specific projects to accommodate growth south of the 120 Bypass.

That would mean if 55 percent of the voters south of the Bypass agreed to basically a tripling of what they pay in CFD fees — the current amount plus an additional doubling of it — the district would eventually have the funds to pay for “their” school.

The answer is clear.

If they want “their” school then the angry homeowners need to pay the full cost and convince their neighbors elsewhere south of the 120 Bypass within the city limits to fork over more money as well.

This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at