On Dec. 14, Washoe County School District officials gathered at the site of where the new Sky Ranch Middle School will be in Spanish Springs to mark the beginning of construction. Located near the developing Kiley Ranch neighborhood on David Allen Parkway, the new school is expected to hold at least 1,400 students in grades 6-8 and open by the 2019-20 school year.
Last summer the WCSD voted to purchase 30 acres of land from developers of Kiley Ranch North, closing escrow soon after in August 2016. Most of the acreage will be used for the Sky Ranch Middle School (18-20 acres) and the rest of a potential elementary school that may be built down the line. Sky Ranch was named after an airfield that was used during World War II as a training ground for the army and then to host the National Championship Air Races in the mid-1960.
The new school is likely to help relieve overcrowding in existing schools and other local elementary schools while also meeting the district’s longtime goal of moving sixth-grade students from an elementary level up into the middle schools. This will allow the district to take elementary schools off of the multi-track calendar, move away from team teaching, and generally improve the environment for all students and staff. New middle schools are also being built in South Reno and Sun Valley.
“The new zoning will be a public process that hasn’t been brought to the WCSD board yet, but between this new school and Sun Valley it could affect upwards of 15,000 students that could see overcrowding relief,” says WCSD Spokesman for Capital Projects Riley Sutton. Sutton explains that adjusting the sixth grade class relieves full classes and rooms currently being used.
“It creates a domino effect all the way to Verdi with what these two schools allow us to do and then we can rebalance after that,” Sutton says. “We get a lot of bang for our buck.”
The cost of building the new school is not expected to exceed $85 million and is funded primarily through the Washoe County School District tax that voters passed in 2016 to raise money for the district’s capital improvement projects.
“(This middle school being built) is a direct result of that funding,” Sutton says, along with various property taxes and bonds that can be pulled out of the district’s general fund. “This is 100 percent WC-1 enabled in all our capital funding.”