Washoe County Moves Forward with Schools - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Washoe County Moves Forward with Schools

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The Washoe County School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously to fund two new middle schools, one in Spanish Springs and one in Sun Valley, and an elementary school in South Meadows.

The Board approved $200 million to build the three schools, and the plan right now is to break ground in December, with the schools opening in August 2019.

The main purpose of these schools is to relieve overcrowding in the school district. The two middle schools are expected to help 25-30 schools, impacting about 15,000 students. President of the Board of Trustees Angie Taylor said the need is apparent when you go around and visit the schools in the district. Brown Elementary School was one that stuck out to her.

"Classes being held in hallways, tarps splitting 2 buildings in half," Taylor said. "You get concerned about safety first and foremost, and then you get concerned about what kind of academic environment we're providing for these kids."

While the schools address problems WC-1 was meant to help fix, the cost of the schools are much higher than WC-1 outlined. The estimate for two middle schools and an elementary school under WC-1 was about $131 million dollars. Technological advancement causes some cost increases, but construction growth has also had a major impact.

"Construction costs have skyrocketed, and so everything costs more right now, unfortunately," Taylor said. "The thing that gives us some solace, if you will, is because of the growth that we've had, the tax revenues should rise to that same level."

The Board of Trustees were shown an extensive breakdown of construction costs after the Capital Financial Protection Committee asked that the board receive more information as to why the costs were so high. The report included a look at the construction industry in the United States and Nevada over the last ten years and projected similar growth over the next few years. That means that school costs are only expected so go up.

Taylor said she's glad the committee approved the funding and believes that helped seal a unanimous decision tonight.

"It's really important to have that recommendation from the Capital Financial Protection committee," Taylor said.  "A group of citizens to say 'hey, we think this is great, some things have lined up.' There were some questions, those questions got answered."

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