O’Brien Middle School was opened in 1976. In 2022, Washoe County School District will open a new school building on the site where it stands.
During a Zoom meeting Monday, representatives from the WCSD and the Sky Vista Homeowners Association discussed some of the details of the project. One priority for the district is its need for HOA members to send in ballots voting in favor or against allowing the school district to purchase some two acres of land within the Sky Vista community along Silver Lake Boulevard. The district’s plans call for widening that road to make the new school’s drop-off and pick-up location instead of Stead Boulevard.
Parents have, for years, voiced concerns about busy Stead Boulevard—which is a four-lane road with sometimes heavy traffic, including semi-trucks.
So far, about half of the number of votes on the measure have been received. A total of two-thirds of the HOA members need to vote in favor of the sale for it to be approved—a total of 1,116 yes votes. Otherwise, access to the school will have to remain on Stead Boulevard.
According to Adam Searcy, chief facilities management officer for the district, a fair-market value offer of $240,000 was made for the land.
If approved by the HOA members, HOA Vice President Alan Isaacson said the money could be used for myriad purpose, including to help offset rising assessment fees. He added that homeowners have been sent a survey and questionnaire asking for their opinions on how the funds might be best used.
“It’s a high bar that the HOA has set for itself,” Searcy said of the additional required yes votes. “I think the general election created a lot of noise and distraction for everyone. It can be sent by mail, email or in a drop box at O’Brien. Children are taking the ballots home to their families as well.
Bonnie Gaskin, a homeowner in the Sky Vista HOA, said, “Most of our community is very excited about this opportunity. …It’s actually giving you as a homeowner a bonus to help keep our assessment fees at a reasonable rate.”
Ballots from HOA members can be dropped off at O’Brien Middle School in a drop box outside of the school. They can also be sent via mail or email. Prior to the district’s move to full-distance learning, ballots were even being sent home with children. Additionally, paper ballots have been mailed out a total of three times, and follow-up emails and calls have been made.
The project to design the new middle school has been ongoing for about a year and a half, according to Searcy. It includes the new middle school that will have the same capacity and features of the three most recent middle schools built by the district. The new building—which will include three stories of academic space—will be on the rear part of the current campus. The old one will be demolished. The sports fields will be redone, also.
Those interested in learning more about the project can visit the webpage dedicated to the project. Sky Vista HOA members can also access ballots to vote on the land sale there.
Jeri Chadwell came to Reno from rural Nevada in 2004 to study anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2012, she returned to the university for a master’s degree in journalism. She is the former associate and news editor of the Reno News & Review and is a recipient of first-place Nevada Press Association awards for investigative and business reporting. Jeri is passionate about Nevada’s history, politics and communities.