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Potential zoning changes for North Valleys area schools discussed

Date:

The Washoe County School District’s Zoning Advisory Committee this week took up talks about rezoning plans proposed to help alleviate overcrowding at schools in the North Valleys area.

Each of three proposed options for rezoning would affect an estimated 336 students across the K-12 grade levels. The rezoning would affect approximately 136 elementary students, 87 middle school students and 113 high school students. Those numbers might change as any potential rezoning plan would not go into effect until the 2022-2023 school year—at which time new, larger middle and high schools are expected to open.

Although the projected number of students who would be affected by rezoning is not particularly large, the plans could impact students at seven area schools in the Panther Valley and Sun Valley areas, including Alice Smith, Ether Bennett and Lois Allen elementary schools; William O’Brien and Desert Skies middle schools; and North Valleys  and the new Proctor R. Hug high schools.

None of the plans would prevent projected overcrowding at North Valleys High School. That’s a problem that is expected to persist until such a time as the school district moves forward with plans for a new high school in the Cold Springs area—something that’s written into the district’s current 20-year master plan.

Regardless of any adopted plans, North Valleys High School will be over capacity during the 2021-2022 school year and could reach as much as 116% capacity by the 2030-2031 school year.

A plan to move some of the area’s high school students to the new Debbie Smith CTE Academy, which  will be replacing the former Procter R. Hug High School on Sutro Street, would allow for greater access to busing for high school students. Many students who currently attend North Valleys High School live within a three-mile radius designated as a “walk zone” by the school district, meaning they’re not offered busing.

Committee members raised some questions about whether students in the walk zone might end up with a longer bus ride to attend the Debbie Smith school than their current walk times to school.

Adam Searcy, chief facilities management officer for the district, acknowledged it’s unlikely many of those students are walking to school even now within the three-mile zone.

“This is quite a hike, and I don’t imagine many of them are walking,” he said, adding that he thinks many of them would like to catch a ride on a bus if they were able.

Although any of the three proposed plans would not resolve overcrowding at North Valleys High School, all three would address the problem of future overcrowding at Alice Smith Elementary School without causing overcrowding at any of the other elementary schools in the area.

The three proposed plans, which are preliminary, can be reviewed here.

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Jeri Chadwell
Jeri Chadwellhttp://thisisreno.com
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.

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