MHS HEADING UP?
MHS HEADING UP?
by Dennis Wyatt, Manteca Bulletin
Manteca High’s future may be looking up.
Input at two community workshops showed 62 percent of those attending were “somewhat supportive” to “supportive” of the idea of Manteca Unified constructing multistory buildings as a way to expand the school and efficiently use current land. The sentiment could play a large factor as the district over the next few years weighs its options on modernizing the campus that is nearing its 100th anniversary and housing expected growth.
In the short term — between now and 2021 – Manteca Unified expects to need to house an additional 1,500 to 2,000 students. The most pressing need is at the elementary level in terms of limited space and the number of projected students. The projection calls for 2.7 times more elementary students to be generated from new housing being built than high school students.
It is why impacts on the high school will take longer to hit. That said they are the most problematic and expensive to solve.
If the district added classrooms at all three high school campuses in Manteca “where they can” it runs the risk of making the campuses unwieldy when it comes to the education program. They also could end up putting additional classrooms at a campus such as East Union where 20 or so years down the road it would be “overbuilt” for student population in the attendance area.
Adding a high school any time in the near future is financially problematic at best given it would carry a minimum price tag of $140 million compared to $25 million to $30 million for an elementary school. The district has only $20 million in growth fees on hand along with a Mello-Roos bonding capacity of $45 million, meaning a new high school campus on district-owned land on Tinnin Road isn’t likely to move forward for perhaps decades due to more pressing elementary housing needs.
It is why two scenarios are getting a bit more attention as the district steps up planning for growth at the high school level for the next five to 15 years. One is adding classroom wings to Sierra High and the other is reconfiguring Manteca into a larger campus by building up to support an enrollment pushing 2,400. The current campus has a design capacity for 1,703 students.
A larger Manteca High campus with an upper enrollment of 2,400 or so students would allow the district to consider different education options than currently offered at district high schools due to the synergy created with more students.
Open enrollment could be severely cutback or eliminated as first step to deal as growth hits
But before any option gets any traction, high schools are most likely to see the elimination — or drastic cut back — of open enrollment allowing students from one highs school attendance area to attend a different high school.
Without open enrollment, Manteca High last year would have had 1,843 students instead of 1,470.
East Union last year had the highest enrollment in the district at 1,535 while Manteca was second at 1,470, a difference of 65 students. But if there were no intra-district transfers, Manteca’s enrollment would balloon to 1,853 students and East Union would drop to 1,356 students, a difference of 497 students in the other direction.
Addressing open enrollment and making sure students are attending the high school whose attendance area they live will grow in importance as enrollment grows.
By 2021 high school-aged students in the Manteca High attendance area are expected to swell to 1,817, Sierra High to 1,456, East Union to 1,339, Lathrop to 1,238, and Weston Ranch to 1,132.
While the Manteca High attendance areas will be the hardest hit in raw numbers its 74.7 percent gain is dwarfed by the 271.6 percent gain expected over the next five years in the Sierra High attendance area.
That has major implications as it would push Sierra past capacity once transfer students are factored in. After five years ongoing growth would force the district to abandon transfers into Sierra High from other attendance districts or else adjust attendance boundaries.
Currently Sierra accepts 281 students from outside their attendance area, East Union 274, Manteca 82, Lathrop 65, and Weston Ranch 10.
Most in-district transfers originate from the Manteca High attendance area with 444 followed by East Union at 95, Sierra at 81, Lathrop at 50, and Weston Ranch at 31.
Of the 455 transfers out of the Manteca High attendance area, 221 go to Sierra, 214 to East Union, 17 to Lathrop, and three to Weston Ranch.
Other issues at Manteca High identified at community workshops
Traffic and safety plus securing more space for Manteca High to grow were also among the top three issues brought up at the Manteca High community workshops in terms of how the district should approach planning for the campus.
The campus is cut in two by Garfield Avenue. While the street is closed with gates during classes and major after school events, it is open at other times. Nothing prevents people from entering the campus from Garfield Avenue during the day on foot.
The school board has already purchased some adjoining property along Moffat for potential campus expansion.
In terms of facilities, those attending the workshops wanted to see new and updated classrooms, gyms, and other support facilities. Outside athletic facilities were also seen in need of upgrading.
Manteca Unified three years ago built the district’s newest high school science wing at the Manteca High campus.
Listed as the top three areas appreciated were the murals and student art work, the school’s history and tradition, plus campus location and community involvement.