By law, Washoe County School District (WCSD) must accept all students, regardless of the capacity of the schools. While 24-new schools opened since 1990, overcrowding remains a problem, and bond funding expired in November 2012. Voters approved ballot question (WC-1) that increased sales tax 0.5% restricting revenues to WCSD capital needs. Capital funds can be used only to build and repair schools, and by law, they may not be used for operating expenses.
Over 37% of elementary schools were ≥100% capacity during the 2015-16 school year; 29 schools were over capacity with the median school age 41 years as of 2016-17; and 26 schools were over capiacity 2017-18. WCSD has used year-round school schedules and rezoning to accomplish growth. Total enrollment has averaged around 3% until recently, but is projected to grow in relation to new jobs attracting employers and families to the region. WCSD has over 230 portable classrooms just to address overcrowding in the 2015-16 school year—but what about the associated needed capacity for bathrooms, libraries, playgrounds, lunchrooms, hallways, storage and parking? Schools aren’t any different from homes—there’s always something in need of repair. WCSD needs a sustainable source of funding for capital needs, repairs, and maintenance in order for students, teachers, employees and parents to be in safe, secure, welcoming school sites to learn.
According to the district, they installed two elementary schools’ worth of portable units in the 2014-15 school year alone, and many older portable structures are over 30 years old in need of major repair. The Government Services Tax funds less than half of the monies needed for emergency repairs and required environmental abatement programs for aging school infrastructure.
- Johnson Elementary at Gerlach HS, square footage tracking separated in 2007-08
- Opportunity School & Academy of Arts, Careers & Technology separated from “other” into high school square footage in 2007-08
- Elementary includes Picollo which is a K-12 school beginning 2009