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BLM Gives Nod to New Middle School in Sun Valley, Groundbreaking Next Week


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

The federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved a lease Tuesday to the Washoe County School District to build a middle school, which is scheduled to break ground on the north end of Sun Valley next week.

The school will have a 1,400-student capacity and is expected to open in fall 2019 on an 80-acre parcel off Donatello Drive. A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for 10 a.m. Dec. 19.

Sixth, seventh, and eighth graders will be housed at the new school, which will be modeled similarly to Depoali Middle School in South Reno. The estimated cost is $85 million.

Washoe County School District is in the process of transitioning sixth graders from elementary to middle schools, which will free up space at elementary schools, many which are over capacity.

Currently, half of Sun Valley middle school students attend Sparks Middle School and the other half go to Traner Middle School.

“The decision to approve the project supports administration priorities of facilitating opportunities for development on public lands that create jobs and help local economies grow and being a good neighbor to the communities we serve,” Bryant Smith, Sierra Front field manager, said in a statement.

The district’s School Naming Committee reviewed submissions in December and selected eight potential names for the school: Michael Landsberry, Debbie Smith, Neil Fockler, Fred Horlacher, Karen Tatomer, Sun Valley, Desert Skies, and John Bohatch.

Committee members are scheduled to select finalists in February. Trustees would then make a final decision on the school’s name.

Funds for school construction are coming from last year’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.

Carla O'Day
Carla O'Day
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.