Thanks to the voters in 2016 who passed a ballot initiative to increase the local sales tax by .54%, the amount of money that is able to be used for new schools and repairs to older schools has increased. Since 2016, the District has been able to fund major repairs and core school investments – such as roofs, HVAC systems, the installation of safety features, and energy efficiency upgrades – at many of our older schools. Three new schools have opened, two more are slated to open for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year, and more are scheduled down the road.
WCSD has invested more than $800 million in capital projects since 2016. In total, WCSD is expecting to invest $1 billion toward new schools, repairs, and expansions by 2025.
The increased capital funding has helped WCSD with several initiatives:
Reduced Overcrowding: Prior to the ballot initiative, WCSD experienced severe overcrowding. Schools often had to improvise for space, utilizing not only portables but makeshift classrooms in common areas, and three of our elementary schools were forced to go on multi-track year round calendars. Since opening three new schools in 2019, we’ve seen relief at schools across the District. In 2016, 28 schools were over maximum capacity, but in the 2018-2019 school year, since opening three new schools, the number has reduced to 13. With two more schools scheduled to open in August 2020, the number of schools over capacity will continue to decrease. Building these new schools is also allowing the District to draw new zoning boundaries that align schools by vertical, so that students will attend elementary, middle, and high school with their same peer group. In the future, new schools will be built based on growth projections. The District works closely with the Cities of Reno and Sparks, Washoe County, and local developers to forecast future enrollment, and thanks to our increased capital funding, we will be able to build new schools as they are needed.
Updated Safety Features: The additional capital funding has enabled the district to upgrade current schools to ensure that students are learning in a safe environment. All elementary and middle schools have been upgraded with a single point of entry system, so all visitors to the buildings must enter through the main office and check in with school staff. Additionally, every classroom door at every school has been upgraded with lock systems accessible from inside the classroom. New schools are being built with all of these safety features.
Increased Energy Efficiency: As part of the District’s core school investments, all schools are being upgraded to be more energy efficient. These facility improvements not only improve the learning environment, but also decrease energy and water consumption, and save money in the long term. By 2020, all schools will have upgraded LED lighting systems, which will provide a 19% reduction in energy costs. This, combined with water conservation upgrades and other ongoing projects, will save the District $2.3 million each year in operational costs, as well as 13.6 Kilowatts of energy and 86 million gallons of water. Each of the new schools are built to comply with the most recent energy standards, and include energy efficient lighting and HVAC systems, as well as ground source heat pumps.
View the 20 year Capital Projects Plan here.
Notice of Non-Discrimination and Web-Accessibility
The District prohibits bullying, cyber-bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination and/or retaliation in any of its educational programs/activities, employment, and employment opportunities. For the District's full Notice of Non-Discrimination statement as well as methods to address questions and concerns please visit our Notice of Non-Discrimination and Web Accessibility page.For more information, visit the Civil Rights Compliance Department page.