WCSD Expects Additional Funds from WC-1, Plans to Break Ground Soon on New Schools

Denise Hausauer and students break ground for the addition to Damonte Ranch High School.
Denise Hausauer and students break ground for the addition to Damonte Ranch High School. This was the first project funded by the WC-1 tax increase. Image: Ty O’Neil.

Construction on two new middle schools is scheduled to start in December and groundbreaking for a new elementary school is planned in the spring if all goes as expected for the Washoe County School District (WCSD).

Plans are dependent on a panel’s recommendation to the Board of Trustees, which is expected next week to recommend approval of $200 million for middle schools in Spanish Springs and Sun Valley and an elementary school in South Reno.

Details will be discussed at the Capital Funding Protection Committee meeting at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 28 at school district headquarters, 425 E. Ninth St. The committee will get an update on land acquisition, project status, and building design. Trustees would then take up the issue Oct. 10.

“These three schools could impact as many as 30 schools,” Pete Etchart, district chief operations officer, said during a press conference Friday.

Many elementary schools are overcrowded and building middle schools will mean moving sixth graders out of elementary schools.

The Spanish Springs middle school is planned for a 32-acre parcel between David Allen and Kiley parkways in the Kiley Ranch North development. About 10 adjacent acres will be used for an elementary school in the future.

The project area map for a proposed school in Sun Valley.
The project area map for a proposed school in Sun Valley. Image: BLM

The middle school in northern Sun Valley will be built on 80 acres of Bureau of Land Management property.

The 1,400-student capacity middle schools will be modeled after Depoali Middle School in South Reno with some adjustments.

The elementary school will be on eight acres in the South Meadows area near the Corona Cyan neighborhood on land donated by the subdivision’s developer. Etchart said this would likely be a 2-story school, a first for an elementary school in Washoe County.

All are scheduled to open in fall 2019.

Funds for school construction are coming from WC-1, November 2016’s 0.54 percent voter-approved sales tax increase. Such dollars can go only toward construction of and refurbishing of facilities. This money cannot be used for teacher or administrator salaries or other school operations.

Initial estimates showed the district getting $781 million through 2025, although it now anticipates receiving an additional $100 million to $175 million in bonding capacity between now and then, according to its financial advisors.

This is notable because labor and material costs are increasing. For example, the estimate for building a middle school two years ago was $55 million and it’s now $80 million.

“Our goal is to meet needs of students and families in the school district,” Etchart said. “We’re fully committed to repairing existing schools and building the new schools we promised.”

WCSD Infrastructure Plan: http://www.wcsdbuilding.com

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Carla O'Day
About Carla O'Day 253 Articles
Carla has an undergraduate degree in journalism and more than 10 years experience as a daily newspaper reporter. She grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., moved to the Reno area in 2002 and wrote for the Reno Gazette-Journal for 8 years, covering a variety of topics. Prior to that, she covered local government in Fort Pierce, Fla.