WCSD needs community support for capital funds bill

RENO, Nev. (KRNV & -- Washoe County schools are in need of critical repairs, so the district is proposing a bill for a slight tax increase they say will give them the funds they need to keep the school system up and running.

The district reports needing almost 4 million dollars for heating systems, 3 million for roofing, and more than 12.5 million for electrical system repairs - all of which are already past the standard life of the equipment.

Superintendent Pedro Martinez says problems of some kind are present at all of the schools.

"We have about 20 million dollars of things that are just breaking," Martinez said.

The school district's list of needed repairs is 329 pages long - totaling more than 500 million dollars. Martinez says it's all listed on the district's website for you to see.

"We know already what things are going to break now, or we think are going to break next year or the year after," Martinez said.

WCSD Director of Government Affairs Lindsay Anderson says they're allowed to use general funds for the repairs, but they don't want to.

"We really would like to keep those funds as close to the classroom as possible," Anderson said.

Martinez says using general fund money could lead to very tough decisions.

"I'm worried that I'm going to wake up one day and have to choose between hiring a teacher and fixing a heating system," Martinez said.

So the school district is presenting a bill during the upcoming legislative session. AB 46 suggests a one-quarter percent sales tax increase, and an increase of 5 cents for every 100 dollars of assessed value on property taxes.

Anderson says it'll generate about 20 million dollars and that's a good start.

"We know that this bill is not going to fix our problems, but it's going to allow us to continue to be proactive," Anderson said.

"I'm not naive," Martinez said. "This is going to be a long shot. But I'm also very optimistic, cautiously optimistic, because we've been working with our legislators, we've been working with our key industry groups, and people really understand the need."

Martinez says he knows money is still tight for many families, but says this is a worthy cause.

"The new bill represents 8 dollars per family per month to keep our children safe, warm and dry," Martinez said. "We think that's a great investment."

If you agree, they need your support.

"Find out who [your] legislator is," Anderson said. "Write them a postcard, an email, call them up. Tell them that [you] think that this is a common sense proposal and [you] can get behind it."