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Naming Committee Narrows List for Middle School in Spanish Springs


A sketch of a possible design for the new middle schools in Sun Valley and Spanish Springs. Image: WCSD

The Washoe County School District’s School Naming Committee on Wednesday narrowed a list of names for a new middle school in Spanish Springs that’s scheduled to break ground next week.

Sparks Middle school math teacher and former Marine Michael Landsberry. (AP Photo/Nevada Air National Guard)

Finalists are Michael Landsberry, Debbie Smith, and Sky Ranch. The district’s Board of Trustees is scheduled to make a final decision at its Dec. 12 meeting and groundbreaking is set for Dec. 14.

Landsberry taught at Sparks Middle School and was shot dead in fall 2013 while trying to protect students from a 12-year-old who opened fire on campus. He was also a Marine veteran and member of the Nevada Air National Guard.

Smith, a late state lawmaker who represented Sparks, advocated for education as a legislator and served as past president of the Nevada Parent Teacher Association.

Debbie Smith
Debbie Smith

Sky Ranch was the name of a World War II-era airfield located near the site of the new school.

Scheduled to open in fall 2019, the 1,400-student capacity middle school will house sixth through eighth graders and be modeled similarly to Depoali Middle School in south Reno with safety, security, technology, and efficiency updates. It’s expected to relieve crowding at several area elementary schools once sixth graders are moved out of elementary schools and into middle school.

The 31.84-acre parcel is located between David Allen and Kiley parkways in the Kiley Ranch North development. About 20 acres will be used for the middle school with the remaining acreage available for a future elementary school.

A total of 35 suggestions were submitted online or by mail and the Naming Committee narrowed the list to 10 last month. Schools are generally named after a geographic region or an individual. Those who suggested an individual were asked to provide information about a nominee’s role in education, public service, and their historical significance.

School logos, mascots, and colors are selected after a principal has been appointed and the input of students who are zoned to attend such schools has been considered.

The 11-member naming committee is made up of one district representative selected by the superintendent, seven members of the public (one from each trustee district), one high school student, and two at-large members.

Construction of the new middle school is being funded by a voter-approved a sales tax increase from 7.725 percent to 8.265 percent that is expected to raise funds during the next nine years to build 15 new schools.


  • Washoe County School District trustees will take public comment and are scheduled to select the school’s name during a meeting that starts at 2 p.m. Dec. 12 at the district administration building, 425 E. Ninth Street.
  • Ground breaking for the new school is scheduled from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Dec. 14 on site, 1000 Kiley Parkway, Sparks.
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.




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