School board wants WIFI in every classroom, will not pursue ballot question

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School board wants WIFI in every classroom, will not pursue ballot question

Wcsd

School Board Trustees are hoping to bring WIFI to every school in the district, but will not pursue a ballot question for capital projects.

On Tuesday, the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees approved how it would spend some of its remaining money.

School Board Trustees are hoping to bring WIFI to every school in the district, but will not pursue a ballot question for capital projects.

73 million: that's how much money the district has left over from its 2002 rollover bonds. During the debate over AB46, the bill that would have raised taxes to fund school repairs, opponents would point to that pot of money as a good starting place. Trustees would counter that voters already approved how that money should be spent back in 2002.

Ultimately, board members decided to stick with those past decisions and not spend all the money on capital renewal, things like HVAC systems and boilers. Instead, they've set aside upwards of 40 million dollars for those kinds of projects and school revitalization over the next two years.

Pete Etchart, who's chief operations officer for the district, says that's how much AB46 would have raised annually, but...

"After 2017 we have a problem."

The district will need to find more money for its aging schools then. At the meeting, the board decided not to move forward with any kind of ballot question in November, something Trustee Dave Aiazzi has pushed for.

"The legislature talked about AB46; the county commission talked about AB46; we talked about AB46; no one asked the public on any of these issues."

To get the question on the ballot, they would have needed about 28,000 signatures by the end of June. Some research done by proponents of AB46 has indicated the community is probably not ready to get behind that.

A ballot initiative would most likely require diverting revenue from some other agencies. President Barbara Clark and several others were not in favor of that.

"That's really kind of the sticking point for me is going out and saying we are going to take away from somebody else's pot of money that's just as narrow and restricted as our's."

Of the 73 million dollars, trustees are recommending that 12 million go to making WIFI accessible in every school--a move that Superintendent Pedro Martinez says is critical for the district to stay up with the times, even if that does mean a little less for capital projects.

" 'We have a lot of capital needs, let's just put it all in capital renewal.' It would have been really easy for you to do that. The job would have been done, but what you did is you said, 'We have a vision for this district. We have a vision for how our children need to learn and how competitive they need to be.' "

Next month, the district will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget.