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WCSD trustees review Capital Improvement Plan

By Eric Marks
Published: Last Updated on

The Washoe County School District focused on its five-year Capital Improvement Plan at Tuesday’s Board of Trustees meeting, something of a return to normalcy despite operational adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan, which covers 2021-2025 is required to be submitted to the Nevada Department of Taxation annually by August 1. It’s intended to be a short-term timeline for planned capital projects and equipment purchases, but not necessarily an authorization to purchase.

In outlining the plan to the Board, district Chief Operating Officer Pete Etchart said his focus was geared towards transparency, oversight and the collaboration processes between all the WCSD departments and the desire to make the funding avenues more transparent to the public.

Projects in the plan include the new Procter R. Hug High School at Wildcreek, which is slated to open in 2022, along with the repurposing of the existing Hug High School into a technical academy, beginning construction in 2022 and slated for opening in August 2023.

Chief Facilities Management Officer Adam Searcy also charted out the bulk of the capital renewal program with Information Technology and HVAC, plumbing and electrical accounting for 30 percent of expenditures.

Searcy also emphasized the WCSD priority of “Safe, Warm, Dry,” a mantra the district is employing specifically with “huge investments in safety.” With that cue, Trustee Katy Simon Holland inquired as to how security guard radios could be included in the Capital Improvement Plan.

Chief Financial Officer Mark Mathers said radios, body cameras and other equipment are considered “Capital Outlay” and are reimbursed from the E911 monies collected off of telephone bills.

Financing for the rest of the plan includes tax revenues from the WC-1 0.54 percent sales tax, property and government services taxes, and gradual re-growth after also planning for funding reductions due to recession. With all factors considered, Mathers said no new bond series issuance would be introduced, allowing for “a buffer for an even worst case scenario for sales tax” therefore providing any excess sales tax revenue as savings the district would collect.

The board was also able to project that they will see a “double digit reduction in construction costs” due to the current pandemic crisis and construction companies hoping to secure long term contracts.

 “We got a good break on the timing (for the Swope and Hug projects), as terrible as the circumstances have been in all the other walks of life,” said Searcy.

The full Board of Trustees meeting can be viewed online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxuJI9ExbGw

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