New Report On School Overcrowding Looks At Fixes

Oct 5, 2015

Credit Alexa Ard

  The Washoe County School District is facing mounting pressure to address the surge of students expected over the next five years. As Reno Public Radio’s Julia Ritchey reports, the school’s Board of Trustees heard new proposals Monday on possible solutions.

With no money to make capital investments and a projected enrollment growth of almost 2 percent starting next year, the school district is in a time crunch.

That’s why it paid a Minneapolis consulting firm $25,000 to review the county’s overcrowding and capacity problems.

The consultants recommend building six new schools and remodeling several existing buildings to create more space.

That’ll cost about $835 million spread over 10 years, significantly higher than previous estimates.

Pete Etchart is the chief operating officer for the district.

“Even if the money came tomorrow, we’re facing overcrowding issues that we’re going to have to deal with and are dealing with," he says. "And it’s not going to be easy, and it’s going to take time to implement this.”

Trustee Veronica Frenkel says the recommendations will give them a springboard for future action.

“It provides us a district-wide perspective on this challenge," she says. "And it allows us to think beyond just building a school, but thinking how can we invest in our schools; how can we think about equity and providing opportunities for all of our kids district-wide?”

The new report will be used as a road map for how to spend funds should taxpayers approve more dollars for school construction.