By Carla O’Day
The Washoe County School District (WCSD) is working with governmental agencies and developers to identify land throughout region for future acquisition to construct new schools. Board trustees are scheduled to hear an update Tuesday.
The meeting is scheduled at 9 a.m. in the WCSD administration boardroom, 425 E. Ninth St.
Numerous sites have been identified, although construction timelines will be staggered and haven’t been finalized for years 2020 through 2025. An addition to Damonte Ranch High School is expected to start this spring and finish by December 2017.
An elementary school on an eight-acre site in the South Meadows near Double Diamond Ranch donated to the district by a developer would be next priority, along with middle schools in Sun Valley and Spanish Springs. The Sun Valley site is 80 acres and currently owned by the federal Bureau of Land Management. The Spanish Springs location would be on 28 acres in the Kiley Ranch area. Target opening dates are fall 2019.
The Butler Ranch area in the South Meadows, Wildcreek area in North-Central Sparks and the Stonegate area in Cold Springs are potential sites for future high schools.
New high schools are a few years off because the district is in the process of drafting educational specifications for that level. High schools also need 60 to 80 acres, making land more tricky to come by. Education specifications have already been done for elementary and middle schools.
Possible additional future middle school locations are in the Arrowcreek area in South Reno and near Vista Boulevard and Los Altos Parkway in Sparks.
Potential new elementary school sites are as follows: Kiley Ranch and Harris Ranch areas in Spanish Springs, Northgate Golf Course in northwest Reno, the Rio Wrangler area in Damonte Ranch, northern Vista Boulevard in Wingfield Springs and the Stonegate section of Cold Springs.
A five-acre site for a transportation center in eastern Sparks is also under consideration.
Building schools takes so much time because it requires land acquisition, architectural and engineering designs and permitting, among other things, school district officials said.
Voters on Nov. 8 approved Washoe County’s question 1, a 0.54-cent sales tax increase that is expected to raise $781 million during the next nine years to build 15 new schools. Consumers should see the sales tax increase from 7.725 percent to 8.265 percent in or around April 2017, with the school district receiving its first proceeds about three months later.
Funds would also expand existing schools and refurbish aging schools. Washoe County currently has 93 schools that serve about 64,000 students. Enrollment is expected to increase 1.7 percent annually through 2025.
This money cannot be used for staff salaries or other school operations.
The average cost to build an elementary school is $23 million. Middle schools cost about $55 million each, and high schools are about $110 million apiece to build.
To view the land acquisition update list, visit
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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.