River Islands school looks to leave Banta district
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Aug 15, 2014 | 3602 views | 2 2 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RIVER ISLANDS — As the school year kicked off at the River Islands Technology Academy on Wednesday, the developer of the master-planned community was quietly shopping around for a new district.

Although River Islands elementary and middle schools fall under the jurisdiction of Banta Elementary School District, which feeds into Tracy Unified School District, project developer Susan Dell’Osso has said she is “exploring her options.”

On July 29, Dell’Osso met with trustees of Manteca Unified School District.

“I started discussions with Manteca to move River Islands and its entirety to Manteca (Unified),” she said. “After thinking about it and getting to know Manteca, it’s an option we want to explore at this point.”

“The whole issue is that the city of Lathrop is split in two,” she continued. “Our kids go to the city of Tracy and Banta. Our kids go to West High, not Lathrop (High). I want our kids to go to Lathrop High. There’s some merit to look at it further.”

Lathrop schools are part of Manteca Unified School District, and although Lathrop’s high school is less than four miles from the River Islands development, students will have to travel more than 10 miles to attend classes at West High School in Tracy Unified School District.

“We want them all (in Manteca Unified), K-12,” Dell’Osso said. “We want all our kids in the same district.”

Recently, leaders of the Banta school district and River Islands development have been at odds about how to govern the future of the development’s growing school needs.

Homes constructed by three builders are going up quickly, and the first River Islands residents are expected to move in at the end of August.

Banta trustees have said that they want to ensure that they have enough classroom space in River Islands to accommodate the incoming resident students, resulting in fewer seats for students at the technology academy that opened as a charter school in 2013.

On June 19, Banta trustees approved a one-year lease agreement with the River Islands Technology Academy and outlined some changes for the campus. Among those taking effect this year is the formation of a Banta science academy in two of the charter school’s classrooms.

Dell’Osso said the changes made by the board were approved without her input or that of the charter school board.

“We’re being dictated to and we have to take it or leave it, instead of doing something under any partnership,” she said. “We’re such a big partner, stakeholder, we can’t be dictated to. We need to be a part of the process.”

Banta Superintendent Albert Garibaldi, who is a member of the charter school board, said he had heard about the initial discussions between Dell’Osso and Manteca Unified School District, but he felt Banta would find terms that could be agreed upon by everyone.

“We don’t have a whole lot to say, because we don’t know what is going to happen,” he said. “They are potentially starting a reorganization process, but it’s in the very early stages. The process would take a while (to change), but Banta will move forward with its current plans.”

The issue of a possible district change was placed on the Banta school board agenda for the meeting Thursday night, after the Tracy Press deadline.

Tracy Unified School District would lose those students if Banta Unified and River Islands can’t come to an accord. TUSD Superintendent Brian Stephens said such a loss was “just not a positive.”

“We’re going to feel the impact,” he said. “I need to sit down and talk to Mrs. Dell’Osso to hear her vision and her perspective, and share that with the (TUSD) board. Tracy is going to protect its district. I do need to hear from the players.”

Dell’Osso said she will make a decision about the school districts sometime in September.

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

Comments-icon Post a Comment
August 15, 2014
Why would any of us want our children to go to Lathrup High compared to TUSD? LHP (Lathrop Hispanic Pride) a Norteneo gang is out of control at Lathrup High.
August 16, 2014
Not a problem for the Dell'osso family as long as they sell those houses...

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