Town Hall Meeting for New Middle School
A town hall meeting in the Arrowcreek area of South Reno Thursday night gave parents the chance to talk about a potential new middle school there. The proposal is to get the land from the US Forest Service.
A town hall meeting in the Arrowcreek area of South Reno Thursday night gave parents the chance to talk about a potential new middle school there. The proposal is to get the land from the US Forest Service. The project has been delayed because of an objection from a resident, so the Washoe County School District made some revisions to the original plan.
"The need has been well known and well documented for many years," said Adam Searcy, Chief Facilities Manager for the Washoe County School District. "All these students are buses over 10 miles to the nearest middle school. We feel strongly that his is an ideal location but we have to go through the process, consider the impact and make sure all appropriate decisions have been made."
Through the Education Land Grant Act, WCSD can get fifty-one acres for $10 per acre.
"We look at if it no longer retains National Forest characteristics - which in this case, because it's surrounded by private land, it doesn't - we look favorably at disposing of it for some public use that benefits the community," said Bill Dunkelberger, Forest Supervisor for the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.
It's a site they've been looking at for some time.
"This project specifically was identified by name on the 2016 ballot WC-1 measure, middle school at Arrowcreek," Searcy said. "We've been pursuing this property through the Forest Service for over a decade prior to that time."
Due to an objection, the district made some revisions to the original plan.
"The conceptual site design changed," Dunkelberger said. "Originally the school district was looking at multiple facilities; now they've settled on just one middle school. They've done more engineering designs and know where it's going to be on the site; that was not clear in the original analysis."
Still, some residents have concerns - things like property values, traffic, evacuations routes, flooding and fires.
But a lot of parents are most concerned with the overcrowding issue.
"Our schools are overcrowded," said Veronica, a parent. "I'm very concerned about the overcrowding at our middle schools and I know it has an impact on our elementary schools as they try to phase out grade six. I appreciate the neighbors' concerns but they all look like concerns that we can resolve - with engineering, appropriate design, and street construction. I think we need to work together to figure out how to respect the residents and the needs of their property but make sure our students have the chance to get the education they deserve.
The Forest Service is taking public comment until the end of the month. The Forest Supervisor will read all those comments and decide whether or not to convey the land to the school district after that. Even if that does happen, it's still very early in the process - the school district will need to go through all the right channels to get the proper permits and licenses for the project to move forward, and those steps will all come with public meetings of their own. The district hopes to have the school open by august of 2020.