Washoe Schools Look To Address Overcrowded, Aging Buildings

Jun 10, 2015

The interior of a portable classroom at Brown Elementary School

Next year, voters in Washoe County may have to decide on whether to increase local taxes to pay for school construction and repairs. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss has the details.

Right now, the school district says it needs about $50 million each year to keep up with critical repairs for its oldest facilities and to house more students. Overcrowding is already an issue and enrollment is projected to grow by 1.7 percent annually. That means the district will need to open 15 new buildings over the next decade. 

Traci Davis, interim superintendent for the district, spoke with us on this issue when she was first appointed late last year. "We are growing and we need to look at our existing buildings and address their needs," she explained. "Likewise, we need space, so I think capital will be one of our number one challenges moving forward." To address that challenge, the school board has just approved forming a special 15-person committee.  Thanks to Senate Bill 411, which was recently passed into law, that committee can add a question to next year's ballot about raising certain taxes to pay for school construction and maintenance.   Possibilities may include additional taxes on sales, properties, or hotel rooms.