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Washoe Schools Unprepared For Population Growth

Anh Gray

Washoe County School District officials painted a bleak picture Friday of the future of repair and construction needs to a newly formed committee on public school overcrowding. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey was there and has this report.

The average age of a Washoe County public school is 39 years old and $25 million a year is the minimum needed for repairs and renovations to the district's crumbling infrastructure.

Those were just a few facts and figures presented to the Public Schools Overcrowding and Repair Needs Committee, made up of a cross-section of the business and civic community.

Pete Etchart is the Chief Operating Officer for the Washoe County School District. He says within five years, they estimate another 5,000 children will be added to the already at-capacity school system.

"Going forward with the growth projections we are hearing, we have to deal with the future. And we have a lot of needs for students, and we have no place to put them."

To alleviate overcrowding, the schools are using almost 230 portable classrooms, but even those are maxed out.

Committee members agreed that new construction and repair needs are urgent but say trying to come up with new revenue sources will be difficult.

The committee will next meet on Sept. 11 when the school's revenue officer will discuss funding.

Julia Ritchey is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.