Two-school district plans eight new schools
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Oct 18, 2013 | 3212 views | 0 0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Banta Elementary School District, which opened its second school this year in Lathrop’s River Islands development, is planning six elementary and two middle schools there as builders start constructing the first houses.

The Banta board of education authorized Superintendent Albert Garibaldi during their monthly meeting to have his staff to create a school construction timeline for the next five to 10 years.

"The board direction is to move forward with starting programs, and we’re starting to have a presence in that area of the district, and we are reacting accordingly," he said. "They’re anxious to get started."

So far, the district does not have exact dates to begin or complete any of the new schools.

"Part of the designing is dependent upon the growth of the River Islands project," he said. "The River Islands project does have a direct impact on how fast or how slow we are going to have to build these schools."

Garibaldi said school district leaders want to keep the timeline fluid at least until November or December to accommodate input from members of the Banta community, the board of education and site developers.

The next step, in May 2015, is beginning construction of the second phase of the River Islands Technology Academy school campus. That involves completion of separate campuses for the elementary and middle schools, which now share space.

Eventually, the elementary school will have 600 students and the middle school 750, with a shared gymnasium and library, Garibaldi said.

The school opened its doors in early August with approximately 400 students.

To help with planning, Banta Elementary School District recently hired consultant Tom Duffy to advise them on facilities and programs.

Duffy retired as the assistant superintendent of schools for Moorepark Unified School District. He is the legislative director of Coalition for Adequate School Housing and a partner in a Sacramento educational facilities consulting firm, Murdoch, Walrath and Holmes.

During a school board meeting on Oct. 10, Duffy said the next step was to submit phase-two construction plans to the Division of the State Architect, which oversees construction of K-12 schools in California.

Garibaldi told the board that Banta’s architects had completed 40 percent of those plans.

Board President Frank Silva responded that it would take six months to get approval from the Division of the State Architect and a year to begin building.

"We need to get started as soon as possible," Silva said.

Duffy said district contractors could start as soon as they know they have students to attend the schools from the River Islands housing stock.

Garibaldi said the developers of the community anticipate the construction of 498 homes at River Islands as part of their first phase of housing. He said he understood that developers were close to being ready or already at the point of starting construction.

"As the project grows, the district will grow," he said.

The district’s three goals, Garibaldi said, are to expand as a district, continue the charter school and provide innovative offerings to students.

"The school board is looking forward to starting some new and unique programs for kids in our school district," he said. "That’s giving me the direction to start looking at our designing program and start preparing for it for new school projects."

Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or drizzo@tracypress.com.

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