A groundbreaking ceremony for Sky Ranch Middle School in Spanish Springs was held Thursday as its future students and local officials moved dirt to kick off construction.
The 1,400-seat school will be on a 31.84-acre parcel between David Allen and Kiley parkways. About 20 acres will be used for the middle school with the remaining acreage available for a future elementary school.
It’s scheduled to open in fall 2019 and expected to cost about $80 million. Core Construction is building the school and VanWoert Bigotti Architects designed it.
The school was named for Sky Ranch, a 1940s auxiliary field that closed in the early 1970s. It was home to the 126,000-acre Rocketdyne Nevada Field Laboratory and it was used for testing the space program’s rocket engines.
Sixth through eighth graders will attend the school. It will be modeled after South Reno’s Depoali Middle School —also designed by VanWoert Bigotti— with safety, security, technology, and efficiency updates.
Sky Ranch’s design consists of 36 standard classrooms, three music rooms, three special education rooms, three flex labs or studios, two art rooms, two language or flex classrooms, a gymnasium, a fitness room, and a weight room.
“These schools allow us to fulfill one of our longtime academic objectives—moving sixth graders to the middle school level,” Superintendent Traci Davis said in a statement. “This will free up much-needed space at nearby middle and elementary schools.”
Elementary schools in the Spanish Springs area are among the most populated in the district.
According to fall validation day, enrollment at Spanish Springs Elementary was 864, with 124 of those being sixth graders. Principal Jim Verdi said his school has since grown to 878 and is the second largest elementary school countywide. It operates on the multi-track, year-round calendar.
“This will provide relief in the way it works for my school,” Verdi said. “We might make it back onto the traditional calendar.”
Nearby, Van Gorder Elementary had 835 students with 117 sixth graders and Sepulveda Elementary had 829 students with 122 sixth graders on validation day. Base capacity is 750 at Spanish Springs and Van Gorder and 701 at Sepulveda.
A new middle school will also prevent existing middle schools from double sessions in the future, said Dylan Shaver, Public Schools Overcrowding and Repair Needs Committee vice chairman. Shaver had experience with this growing up in the Las Vegas area. He recalled being alone many hours after school before his parents returned from work.
“That hit home for me,” Shaver said. “When I was in middle school, I was in double sessions. We started at 5:45 a.m. and we got out at 11:45 a.m.”
Construction for schools is being funded by a voter-approved sales tax increase that is expected to raise funds during the next few years to build 15 new schools.
A groundbreaking for an identically-designed middle school in Sun Valley is scheduled at 10 a.m. Dec. 19 on Donatello Drive.