WCSD has future plans for overcrowding; No immediate fix

Halls are packed at Spanish Springs High School

Karen Zavora's son Henry just started kindergarten in Reno. He's excited. She's nervous. Not just because Zavora's sending him off to school, but that the schools are overcrowded and she's unclear what Henry's future will look like in an over-stuffed classroom.

"I'm really concerned about it especially as they get older the class sizes seem to be growing," Zavora said.

Jenna White has a 6-year old and a 10-year old in the district. She's concerned about the overcrowding impacting her kids' learning.

"I just don't want my kids to kind of get left behind or the student-to-teacher ratio to be out of control," White said.

Building new schools

Pete Etchart, the district's Chief Operations Officer has been looking for solutions to the overcrowding problem.

"We've been at capacity for a long time and a lot of our schools are well over capacity," he said.

WC-1 money helped pay for the construction of three new schools: Desert Skies Middle School in Sun Valley, Sky Ranch Middle School in Spanish Springs and Poulakidas Elementary School in South Reno. All three are expected to be open for the Fall 2019 school year.

But teachers, students and parents will have to feel the pinch in the meantime.

"Well, we're having to deal with this overcrowding now, we can only build schools so fast," Etchart said.

The Arrowcreek-area middle school in South Reno should be open in the Fall of 2020 or 2021. The Kiley Ranch-area elementary school in Spanish Springs is scheduled to also open in the Fall of 2020. The Wildcreek-area high school in West Sparks is scheduled for the Fall of 2022. But as News 4 reported, people opposed to the Wildcreek plan filed a lawsuit to fight the new school taking over part of the golf course.

The district has plans to repurpose Hug High School by the Fall of 2023 once they build the new school in West Sparks.

Enrollment

"We're constantly looking at all the issues that comes to growth and overcrowding at all of our schools. It's part science and it's part art because we really have to see where those students are coming from. There's a lot that goes into the enrollment of our schools," Etchart said.

Enrollment in the Washoe County School District is on the rise. In the past eight years, the district reports enrollment increased by almost two thousand students.


Easing the immediate overcrowding

A newly formed Washoe County School District committee will make any zoning change recommendations to the Superintendent and Board of Trustees. Students at overcrowded schools could be moved to less crowded schools.

Three schools that are on multi-tracks.

"Right now unfortunately we have three elementary schools that are a multi-track year-round calendar. One of our goals is to build these schools as quickly as possible so that we can relieve them and put them back in the traditional calendar," Etchart said.

The district has also moved most sixth graders into middle schools to free up more space in elementary schools.

Parents: We need a better partnership

Parent Karen Zavora said the overcrowding solution shouldn't just come from the school district.

"We sort of need a better partnership between the Reno City Council, the school district and the state level because I really think the school district is trying to do what they can, but when we (construct) lots of new buildings, lots more new housing -- which we also need -- but we need to tie that together with how are we going to fund a new school in that area," she said.

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