Ethel Allen could be the first new school built in Manteca Unified in more than a decade.
The Manteca Unified school board Tuesday will discuss and provide direction on three student growth issues — the Lathrop area elementary capacity, the South Manteca elementary capacity, and increased capacity at Manteca High — when they meet at 7 p.m. at the district office, 2271 W. Louise Ave.
The decision involving Manteca High could lead to the campus having the district’s first multi-story classroom wings in order to accommodate student growth.
Lathrop has the most pressing current student housing problem while Manteca south of the 120 Bypass is facing capacity issues at existing campuses as home building accelerates.
Ethel Allen — unlike undeveloped elementary school sites (Rustic and Tara) in southwest Manteca — already has infrastructure such as streets as well as sewer and water plus other utilities extended to the edge of the envisioned campus.
District Superintendent Jason Messer said staff is recommending a phased approach to developing the Ethel Allen site located west of Interstate 5 and south of Lathrop High. That could mean initially building just the primary grades.
Messer indicated that way Manteca Unified won’t be dealing with repeat problems in the past where they built an entire elementary campus at once and had classrooms empty while other schools in the district were at capacity and struggling to house students. The most recent example was when Joshua Cowell School was built. For more than three years it was significantly below capacity.
A phased approach that would add the upper grades later also would allow the district to maximize the estimated $77.6 million they have on hand from all sources to address student housing needs expected to arise in the next three to five years.
There are two options that the district is in the position to pursue currently when it comes to handling South Manteca elementary growth. One is to add another classroom wing to Lincoln School that has already undergone modernization and had a new multi-purpose room and office complex built as well as the campus orientated. Infrastructure to serve another classroom was stubbed off as part of the modernization effort.
The other option is to add new classroom wings using growth funds concurrently with a modernization/health and safety bond project at Nile Garden School. The now rural campus could eventually accommodate 1,000 students.
District leaders believe both growth projects at Lincoln and Nile Garden will eventually have to take place to handle growth.
The Lincoln School classroom wing, however, is likely to be added quicker than additional classroom space at Nile Garden School.
If the board opts to go ahead and add capacity at Manteca High to accommodate growth, it essentially means the trustees will be giving the green light to a transformation of the 96-year-old campus that will eventually lead to a new big gym, two-story classroom wings, and other enhancements.
Manteca Unified expects by 2020 to have upwards of 2,000 more students — or the equivalent of two elementary schools.
It will take upwards of three years to get new facilities in place due to lead time is needed for design, gaining state approvals, and construction.
Between $22.2 million in development fees as well as $55.4 million in Mello-Roos special taxes and bond sale receipts, the district has $77.6 million available for new construction. The new elementary campus in Lathrop is expected to run between $25 million and $30 million while the other classroom projects could easily consume up to another $10 million leaving less than $30 million for the next wave of construction to accommodate growth.
There is $7.1 million set aside from Measure G bonds in the second phase of modernization work for non-growth improvements at Nile Garden. That money will be spent on major and deferred maintenance, health and safety, and code compliance. That work would be done in such a manner that it would place infrastructure improvements to connect seamlessly with non-Measure G work that would be done to accommodate additional students.
Adding classrooms to existing elementary campuses is a cost effective way of increasing capacity. That’s because they already have big ticket items such as multi-purpose rooms, infrastructure such as water and sewer pipes, playgrounds, parking lots, and other support facilities such as libraries and offices in place. That leaves only the need to build classrooms and perhaps additional restrooms.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com