Imagine being able to bring all students in a specific Manteca Unified grade level together in one place to enrich their learning.

Let’s say it’s a one-day event for eighth graders on science, technology, engineering, and math.

The district is able to secure two senior speakers. One could be a native of the French camp, engineer and astronaut Jose M. Hernandez.

The other could be Patricia Falcone, deputy director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for Science and Technology.

After gathering in a 2,000-seat auditorium complete with audio-visual aids, students break into small groups to explore various aspects of STEM.

One area has laboratory facilities. Another is a large area that can be divided into smaller spaces via moveable walls. There are also more traditional rooms.

Outside, there are “outdoor classrooms” equipped under the roof with WIFI and audiovisual capabilities

As such, there could be dozens of learning spaces hosting experts from various STEM disciplines gathered in one place, giving all eighth graders in the district access to the same enrichment programs.

It’s such a scenario that could play out as Manteca Unified further explores the possibility of spending an estimated $15 million on what began as the possibility of pursuing a regional performing arts facility on the campus of the office of district of Louise Avenue and Airport Way.

Welcoming and developing the performing arts for the district’s 25,000 students as well as the communities served by the district is always part of the plan.

But if the project goes ahead, District Superintendent Clark Burke wants to make if an investment is made in a centralized facility that it can serve a multitude of purposes to further expand educational programs as well as fill gaps in necessary facilities for the arts as well as large-scale gatherings both for learning opportunities at school and for the community as a whole.

Call though an exhibition center if you want.

This is a concept that will be explored more intensively in the near future by a central planning group.

This group will identify needs more precisely and explore how a centralized facility can meet those needs.

It will build on a concept design that is part of a $250,000 investment from Manteca’s Unified Board of Directors to build on educational programming with facilities that can open more doors, inspire, educate and entertain. .

It could end up being a cross between a performing arts center, a conference center, and a magnetic education center. Or, more accurately, an exhibition center,

As such, it would build on the principles the school board has adopted to guide how the district invests in facilities in the future:

*They must be program driven.

* Taxpayers must get the maximum return on the money spent.

*Flexibility and the ability to adapt to changing needs matters.

* The ability to serve multiple uses is a must.

Idea rooted in need and

desire to avoid duplicates

facilities with minimal use

The idea of ​​an exhibition centre/centralized performing arts center which could be described as a learning enhancement center was launched in December.

At the time, it was noted that it had the potential in one fell swoop to address program deficiencies in the five secondary schools identified by school administrators, teachers, classified staff, and students. It could also significantly strengthen the district’s elementary performing arts programs and open the door to community programs in Manteca, Lathrop and Southwest Manteca, which is Weston Ranch.

Manteca Unified staff began considering the possibility of a district campus facility after the big issue continued to surface in campus needs assessments as well as addressing campus parity and serving emerging students.

Building a performing arts theater and classrooms for related programs at East Union High and Sierra High costs at least $12 million at each location. And upgrading the performing arts theater at Manteca High and adding related classrooms that would create a facility that would likely be smaller than those in EU and Sierra would cost at least $3.3 million.

The needs assessment for Weston Ranch and Lathrop High was not addressed to the same degree as they are the last two high schools in the district.

The preliminary cost of a central performing arts center in the district office complex was set at $14.6 million in December. To meet the programming needs of emerging students, the Tab is $42 million on three high school campuses alone. If a similar facility were built on each of the five full campuses in the district, the price would be over $70 million.

Such an approach could result in five duplicate installations that are far from maximized in terms of use and potential at a price up to five times higher.

The vision is to augment, not replace, what is on existing campuses such as “black boxes” or one-room theaters as well as the smaller performing arts center at Manteca High.

It would provide a venue for concerts, plays, and similar high school presentations.

Joint elementary programs could also be organised. The district location should also be large enough to accommodate eighth grade promotion ceremonies and possibly high school graduations.

The towns of Manteca and Lathrop along with southwestern Stockton make extensive use of the district’s facilities for community recreation. They could do the same for the planned neighborhood complex.

It is not unusual in many districts for non-profit organizations to use school grounds for concerts such as what was offered by the now disbanded Manteca Kindred Arts organization, and even community theater groups.

What is unusual is for a district with multiple high school campuses to use a central site away from the campuses to avoid duplicating not only construction costs, but also maintenance and ongoing operations. .

The Louise Avenue District Campus – as the crow flies – is less than a mile from East Union High, 1½ miles from Sierra High, 2½ miles from Manteca High, and 5 miles from Lathrop High.

The initial allocation of $250,000 was authorized by the board to develop a program summary and conceptual design solution for the project. Initial planning costs are centered on conceptual planning services including, but not limited to; architectural design, instructional and technical specifications, guidance documents, cost estimates, geotechnical investigations and topographic surveys.

Public funds earmarked for capital expenditure cover the cost of the study.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email [email protected]