WCSD approves capital improvements

Published: Dec. 14, 2016 at 10:15 PM PST
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UPDATE 12/20/2016:

At a special meeting December 20, 2016, the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees approved recommendations from a community oversight group, the Capital Funding Protection Committee, for the first set of building and repair projects following passage of school funding measure WC-1 in November.

“The Washoe County School District Board of Trustees is excited to approve the recommended projects and to be able to move forward with building new school buildings and plans for significant repairs to older school buildings,” said Washoe County School District Board President Dr. Angie Taylor.

“We appreciate the dedicated work of the Capital Funding Protection Committee to make these recommendations. We know that classroom conditions have a big impact on teaching and learning and we want what is best for our 64,000 students and their teachers. This is a tremendous moment for our community.”

Trustees approved a total of $76 million in capital projects, including the following:

• $20M per year in specific repairs projects to older schools;

• Additions to Damonte Ranch High School, totaling 22 new classrooms, which are expected to be completed during the first half of the 2017-18 school year;

• Funding to purchase land and draw site-specific plans for new middle schools in Sun Valley and Spanish Springs and new elementary and high schools across the district;

• Creation of a comprehensive plan for existing high schools; and,

• Plans for a new South Meadows-area elementary school, which will be the first brand-new school built following passage of WC-1. This school will be near the intersection of South Meadows and Veterans parkways, and is projected to be completed in December 2018.



Washoe County School District leaders say now that they know funding will be coming in, they are moving forward with plans to repair existing schools and build new ones. This week, they will ask a committee to approve funding for some big projects.

The Washoe County School District is proposing several projects following the passage of WC-1. December 15, 2016, district leaders will go to the Capital Funding Protection Committee to ask for the following:

-$20 million per year in repair projects across the district

-Addition to Damonte Ranch High School

-First new school construction: South Meadows-area elementary school

-Funding to purchase land, draw plans for middle schools in Sun Valley and Spanish Springs

The Capital Funding Protection Committee may vote to recommend all or some of the plan. It may also recommend changes to the plan.

Now that district leaders know that there will be money coming in from WC-1, they continue to move forward in their plans to repair and renovate aging schools. They also still hope to construct 15 schools over the next decade. There is concern, though, that there may not be enough construction workers to do the work.

"We set some pretty ambitious timeline for dates to build these new schools," said Pete Etchart, Chief Operating Officer with the Washoe County School District. "We also understand there's a labor shortage here in northern Nevada, whether it's people building out of the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center or elsewhere, we are going to have a kind of shortage of labor."

WCSD is working with the Associated General Contractors to try to make sure there are enough workers. Craig Madole, CEO of the Nevada Chapter of the Associated General Contractors, said there are currently about 18,000 employees working in construction in the Reno-Sparks area. He said there used to be a lot more, but many left when the recession hit.

"I'm cautiously optimistic the construction community is going to step up and be there when we need them," said Joe Gambica, Interim Chief Facilities Officer for the Washoe County School District. "We're in competition with an awful lot of work going on, but I'm pretty confident we'll get people to bid our work. I think that if anything, what it could do is add a little time to the projects, but I think we'll get out there and we'll be as aggressive as we can and we'll get these schools up as quick as we can."