$12 Million Could Be Spent on Wireless Internet in Washoe School - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

$12 Million Could Be Spent on Wireless Internet in Washoe Schools

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Tuesday, Washoe County School Board trustees will consider how to spend $73 million in capital reserves.

Only eight of the district's 93 schools already have wireless internet service. Now, an oversight panel is recommending that the district spends $12 million so that all of them have wireless capabilities.

Getting another 85 schools equipped with WiFi can be a difficult task but it's something school faculty says is necessary.

"I talk to principals, I talk to teachers, I hear over and over again the need for information technology in our classrooms," Pete Etchart, Chief Operations Officer for WCSD said.

Etchart will give a presentation at Tuesday's board meeting. He says spending the money on this upgrade is something that will go along way for both teachers and students. "I think the changes in the world, today, are showing more and more the need that our schools have to be aware and be able to utilize technology," Etchart said.

But having the ability to make that happen is something that doesn't come cheap. "This is the stuff behind the walls," Etchart said. "This is the stuff that you don't see but without it, all those devices you would bring into the classroom don't work. It's expensive. We have 93 schools. There's a lot of work to be done."

The school district has $73 million in bond money. The money for these upgrades would come from that fund. "We don't have that sustainable source of revenue for our schools," Etchart said. "But this money actually expires in 2017. So, it has to be utilized."

Assembly Bill 46 gave the Washoe County Commission the authority to raise property taxes to pay for repairs and upgrades to the district's aging schools. The measure expired without getting a vote. So, the rest of the capital funds budget could go towards school revitalization, capital improvements, and safety and security needs. "Our schools are getting older and older, every year," Etchart said. "We are seeing more and more needs in our schools and I think it's important that we have almost $1.5 billion worth of assets. The community obviously does not want those to go into disrepair."

The school district is recommending that $15 million will go towards those school repairs.

Etchart says it could take up to two years to get every Washoe County school equipped with wireless infrastructure.

Written by Paul Nelson
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