Banta district plans for next River Islands school
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
May 16, 2014 | 5106 views | 2 2 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BANTA — Banta Elementary School District is moving ahead with plans to expand its school campus at the River Islands development in west Lathrop, just east of Tracy.

The Banta district owns the master-planned development’s only school site so far, which is already home to River Islands Technology Academy, a charter school with kindergarten to sixth-grade classes.

The three members of the Banta school board voted unanimously at a May 8 meeting to take over two classrooms there in August to create a science magnet school for children moving into homes in River Islands.

Superintendent Albert Garibaldi gave the school board an eight-page draft May 8 of a yearly lease that would begin July 1 for the technology charter.

The draft calls for Banta to take over two science classrooms in Building G during the 2014-15 school year and notify the charter school about future plans to build a new administration office and additional classrooms.

The draft also proposes Banta’s takeover of the charter’s middle school campus beginning in 2015-16.

“It’s clear about our plans for 2015-16,” Garibaldi said. “It’s clear we’re getting out there.”

He plans to present the draft to the charter board at a May 22 meeting.

Motivating the Banta board to take action was the start of home building at River Islands. (Read the Press article.) The two classrooms will be the starting point for a new Banta science academy for students living in the community.

Garibaldi said that because Banta would be sharing space with the charter school, the district would pay its part of the utility costs.

He suggested renewing the lease annually and presenting it to the charter board each May. That, he said, would give Banta administrators the ability to adjust as River Islands grows.

“I think we need to keep it open,” Garibaldi said. “If something comes up, we can notify them earlier.”

He said school administrators don’t have a firm idea of how many students will be coming into the Banta district from River Islands, because that depends on housing sales. He said they will be following those sales closely to try to get solid numbers by the first of the year.

The first part of construction is well underway, as three builders — DeNova Homes, Brookfield Residential and Van Daele Homes — have started building houses. DeNova is slated to open its four models Saturday.

To oversee Banta’s new science school in River Islands, district trustees voted unanimously May 8 to reclassify Leslie Pombo as a teacher on assignment starting in August. Pombo currently teaches seventh and eighth grades at Banta School.

Typically, an administrator would be needed to prepare a new school site, but Garibaldi — as both superintendent and principal — recommended Pombo. He said she has an extensive background in science studies.

The board agreed with the recommendation, and board President Frank Silva said, “She’s got a lot of challenges ahead of her.”

To replace Pombo, the trustees also voted unanimously to hire Leticia Rosales to teach eighth grade and Erica Rossi to teach sixth grade, also beginning in August.

• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at or 830-4225.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
May 19, 2014
Poor little Banta. Taken over by big money. And now one of their best teachers snagged away. What a shame.

May 18, 2014
Speaking of Banta, I "met" the roundabout twice, coming and going from Kassen road. What a scary experience. With good visability, it was a close encounter from the north and south cars, what will it be in foggy weather? The prior stop lights were a lot better than this wild idea.

I have heard others speak of it and avoid that route whenever they can. Works ok in downtown Tracy, but at 11th and Grant Line, not a good idea.

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