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Manteca High at crossroads
Modernization could set stage for major expansion
Principal Frank Gonzalez, left, and Aaron Bowers with district facilities discuss the Manteca High camous - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

How $30 million in Measure G bond receipts is spent to modernize Manteca High has the potential to reverberate far beyond the 98-year-old campus.

And it could hold the key for not only avoiding classroom overcrowding for the foreseeable future as Manteca Unified struggles to accommodate an avalanche of growth but it  could also create educational opportunities that currently do not exist in the school district.

It is why in the coming months District Superintendent Jason Messer is planning a series of meetings reaching out to various constituencies that have a stake in various modernization options that could be pursued at Manteca High. Then, when the input is gathered, the Manteca Unified board will make what could arguably be the most critical facility decision made in the district’s 50-year history.

And while actual physical modernization work may not start on Manteca High for four years given it is in the third phase of Measure G projects following the Neil Hafley, French Camp, George McParland, New Haven and Nile Garden elementary campuses that will be tackled next, how a potential Manteca High modernization decision ties in with growth as well as the complexities of the campus site itself and issues surrounding will require an inordinate amount of sounding out with the community and sorting through multiple options.


Growth needs &


Manteca Unified has two major issues coming together at the same time — the need to modernize and improve the security as well as safety of Manteca High plus deal with growth mostly south of the 120 Bypass. That growth could balloon district enrollment by 20 percent over the next four to five years.

The Manteca High campus was rebuilt in 1949 with new structures and modernizations taking play in 1993, 1996, and 2002. It consists of a 45-acre campus split by Garfield Avenue. There are numerous program deficiencies related to structures including a gym that can only hold a third of the student body at any given time.

The district owns land on Tinnin Road designated for a new high school. The cost to build a high school campus for 1,500 to 1,800 students is pegged at $140 million plus. The big ticket items are extending infrastructure to serve the campus and support facilities such as a gym, football field, swimming pool, and such.

The district is at 96 percent capacity and lacks roughly a third of the funding to build any new school. That missing third reflects a combo of state and local bond money. None of the Measure G bond can be used for construction to accommodate growth. At the same time, the state school bond passed in November is not expected to yield funding for new schools per se.

The likelihood of Manteca Unified pursuing another bond with taxpayers still paying on two existing bond measures isn’t considered a possibility in the near future. That leaves Manteca Unified with only two funding sources for new construction: Mello Roos taxes or some other financial mechanism developers might be willing  to put in place and growth fees assessed on new housing on a per square footage basis.

With elementary schools costing $25 million to $30 million apiece, it is prompting Manteca Unified to look at all potential scenarios.

Almost 80 percent of all growth in the district could come from south of the 120 Bypass. The two closest high schools are Sierra High and Manteca High.

While busing to Weston Ranch, East Union, and Lathrop are options it would be only short-term temporary or could end up adding portable classrooms and overloading campuses. Lathrop High also has potential growth to address in that community although the volume is not as imminent as it is in South Manteca.

Sierra High could accommodate some additional permanent classrooms.

And while none of the $30 million earmarked for Manteca High Measure G work can go to house new growth, how it is spent and the campus configured could play a key role in accommodating that growth.


Manteca High could

have multiple-story

classroom buildings

But to do so would require several significant things to happen including getting the city to turn over a segment of Garfield Avenue to the school district, reorienting  the front of Manteca High to Moffat Boulevard and for Manteca High to build two or three story classroom buildings.

It would also mean Manteca High would be different as it would have a much larger enrollment. 

Messer noted the district is not likely to build a cookie cutter campus when it does build the city’s fourth high school on Tinnin Road as the campus configuration used at Sierra, Lathrop and Weston Ranch would not reflect the high school facility needs of a high school in the 2020s and beyond.

Manteca High by going up with multiple story classroom buildings could perhaps accommodate 2,500 plus students. In doing so it would allow the offering of programs and classes that could not be offered at a campus of 1,500 students.

Such a move though would break the 50 year tradition of having all high schools the same size roughly in enrollment.

That would mean the 50-year rivalry between East Union and Manteca high schools would no longer include league match ups as Manteca High would be too big to be in the same league with any other high school in the district.

It is why one of the groups Messer want to seek input from are Manteca High alumni.

Another is backers of an effort to bring back the old Manteca High tower in some form.  A move to multiple story classroom buildings would likely make that feasible.

Educators and students also would be asked for input as well as the surrounding neighborhood, downtown and the City of Manteca.

Messer noted with the campus’ proximity to downtown and the transit station as well as Lincoln Park there are a lot of potential partnerships between the city, community, and school district.

One of them is parking.

“Most of the time we need parking (for school) is not the same time it is necessarily in the biggest demand for downtown,” Messer said of possible city use of parking lots.

 Mayor Steve DeBrum has noted he has talked with the district about things such as possibly making the performing arts center that faces Yosemite Avenue a partnership between the school district and city to provide Manteca with a community performing arts center.  Again, most of the times of use would not conflict.

A larger campus would likely allow Manteca High to get a bigger gym.

Messer stressed the final decision rests with the school board.

He added it will take a lot of input and running various scenarios to see what would be best for the education of students as well as the community and what the district can best afford to build for high school facilities while at the same time building new elementary campuses by maximizing available funds.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email