Build high school where it’s needed
by Tracy Press
Mar 24, 2007 | 675 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Tracy Unified School District wants to double the size of the proposed John C. Kimball High School, with classrooms in the first phase to house 1,200 students and a second phase for 1,200 more. The district has said it doesn’t want the school to be in Mountain House, even with its projected growth.

What’s the difference between building the 2,400-student high school near Tracy’s Lammers Road and 11th Street and putting it about 5 miles away in Mountain House

Plenty.

The teenagers in our communities have to go to school somewhere, but the large majority of them shouldn’t have to be bussed or drive 4 or 5 miles to school each day. We sincerely doubt that Mountain House residents want a parade of cars from Tracy streaming in and out of their new town each school day.

Until it has its own high school, most Mountain House teens will travel to Tracy for high school, and they’ll probably continue to do that until the town is built out to a projected population of 43,500 residents, including about 1,500 high school students.

That won’t happen tomorrow, which is exactly when TUSD figures it will need a third large high school — and when it can get state funding to pay for about half of it.

As Denise Wakefield, director of facilities planning, told the TUSD board this week, the iron is hot for state funding for the new high school, and based on flat enrollment projections for the next five years, the iron could go cold fast. The state’s bean counters will quickly reject school districts seeking funds for new schools that aren’t growing.

Tracy Unified has two comprehensive high schools: West and Tracy, with a combined enrollment of about 6,000 students, which is 1,200 students over capacity. That’s already enough to fill half the seats at Kimball High, three years before its opening.

Of those students are 150 from Mountain House who either take the bus or drive to West High School. Mountain House developers buy the buses, and student fees cover the transportation costs. Tracy Unified would have a tough time picking up the transportation tab for its 1,200 students to go to Mountain House.

Thus, Mountain House should have its own comprehensive high school when it has enough students to fill the classrooms. And Tracy Unified should build John C. Kimball High School in Tracy, as planned.

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