New WCSD schools will have gender-neutral restrooms, more flexibility for learning

By  | 

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Next year, construction will start on a new elementary school that will be built in the South Meadows area. And it won't look anything like the elementary schools you're used to seeing in the Washoe County School District.

Washoe County School District logo

"This elementary school is a completely new layout for the district. There's nothing like it in this community," says Malena Raymond, Washoe County School District Board Trustee.

One of the biggest changes in this design model is that it will feature gender-neutral restrooms.

"The idea is it will decrease bullying across the board with our students," says Tami Zimmerman, Director of Planning and Design for the Washoe County School District. "Gender neutral bathrooms are good for all of our students to feel safe to use our facilities. They are single stalls, floor to ceiling. They have their own light, their own fan and their own door."

Those won't be the only restrooms for students. The 28 classrooms will also have interior restrooms, so that students don't have to spend too much time outside of class when they have to use the restroom.

Another unique feature of the school will be roll-up doors that work similar to garage doors. They will allow rooms to be expanded, depending on what the teachers and students need. Zimmerman says a big goal of the design was to give the building flexibility for learning.

The campus will also be two stories. Right now, the only two-story elementary school in the Washoe County School District is in Incline Village. But Zimmerman says you can expect to see more two-story schools built because that model allows the district to purchase smaller properties than they would need for one-story campuses. Having two floors also allows the construction of what the district is calling "social stairs."

"Students can present on them, they can study on them, they can do a lot of activities on them," says Zimmerman.

"We'll have a STEAM lab for all the students and teachers to utilize and media space that's both library but also computer," says Trustee Raymond. "Just really allowing a lot of flexibility for learning."

A committee is meeting to narrow down possible names for the school that will be built near South Meadows Parkway and Veterans Parkway. The school is expected to usher in its first students in August 2019.

Over the next ten years, the Washoe County School District plans to build 14 schools. Nine of those will be elementary schools and Zimmerman says chances are good they will look a lot like this first one that will be built in the South Meadows.

"We'll take our lessons learned from this one and apply them to any of the other ones that we build in the future, but they'll very likely look very similar to this one," says Zimmerman.

The South Meadows elementary school is expected to usher in its first students in August 2019.

The budget for the school is $34 million. That includes the furniture and the design. The land was donated by Toll Brothers.
The school district is anticipating future elementary schools won't cost as much to design since they won't be designed from scratch, but rather be adaptations of this model.

Funding to build the school is coming from tax revenue as a result of the passage of WC-1 by Washoe County voters.