Washoe County School District holds heated meeting about how Incline schools fit in its facility plan
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. – More than 50 people including parents, Washoe County School District staff, board members, local teachers, and longtime residents filled the Duffield Theatre at the Incline Village High School on the evening of October 12 to discuss the School District’s Facility Modernization Plan in the hopes of creating some guidelines for a working group that can help move the District forward regarding its capital improvement options for Incline’s schools.
The District has held more than two dozen public meetings throughout the region over the past year to discuss the FMP and its potential outcomes while also collecting input from the community before any decisions are made.
The District hired CannonDesign to help complete a comprehensive facility assessment and assist in a transparent planning process with key stakeholders. At the October 12 meeting, outside consultant Margaret Schultz facilitated the meeting, showing a presentation that noted the key takeaways from the April 5 and May 3 meetings and ensured the audience that “any change that takes place needs your input”. She then said that the goal of the meeting was to create guidelines for a working group, and wanted the audience’s input on who the membership should be.
The first topic of conversation that the School District presented was seeking feedback about was in the “areas of extended focused study”.
“What are we missing, what’s written wrong, what’s next?” Schultz asked.
The audience had no problem speaking up.
“I’ve attended these meetings since the beginning and the preface of this was facility assessment for the pre-K population funding allocation. But what we never heard is, what are the facility gaps or how are they [the local schools] not performing? How are [the schools] holding back our students? What investments are going to be made to bridge whatever those gaps are? And how are they impeding our students’ education?” Lake Tahoe resident and parent Brad Johnson inquired. “Are we looking at two buildings or three major renovations? What is the cost?”
Then an Incline Middle School teacher spoke, saying that the newer buildings down in Reno have an industrial feel to them. “Is there something that says newer schools are better? Can Incline Village add or modify anything to fix those issues?”
Another longtime resident whose children and grandchildren have gone through the Washoe County school system asked if Incline could have a magnet school, pulling in kids from neighboring areas like Kings Beach and South Lake Tahoe. “We can offer rich education here, but all of the money is going down the hill,” she said. Her comment drew applause.
Another local resident/realtor was concerned about combining the middle and high schools [an option that was presented at an earlier meeting in the spring], believing it’s too drastic of age groups to put together.
“Just like you’re not going to put a doctor’s office in Raley’s, you’re not going to put a 7-year-old with a 19-year-old,” the resident said.
An Incline Village student spoke up against combining the schools, saying, “The middle school is very diverse. I believe that the community has become more segregated and I’m afraid that closing the middle school would exacerbate that”.
Incline parents with seven kids said, “We’re very frustrated, concerned. We can’t find any daycare, which means the elementary school is going to get hit hard in a couple of years. We don’t give birth here [as the closest obstetrics centers are in Reno and Truckee], we give birth an hour away. Where are you getting your [enrollment/population] numbers?”
One staff member of the middle school added, “What about equity? There’s all this talk about having all this money from WC-1 [the school district capital improvements tax that was voted for back in the 2016 election] but all I’m hearing in this town is how we need to save money”.
Another educator at the middle school said that she believed that teachers were giving students an equitable education due to the smaller class sizes they were able to provide.
“How are we going to be able to offer the individual programming that these kids need [if the middle school is closed]?” the counselor at the middle school asked. “We have a wellness zone at the middle school that other districts wish they had.”
A staff member from the elementary school and parent said, “It’s so important that we listen to the people in this community. We live here, we work here, and I haven’t heard anyone who wants this change. Enrollment numbers fluctuate and the list for daycare is a mile long”.
“We’re losing teachers and you turned the last school you closed into a parking lot,” a longtime real estate office owner said. “We are here because we’re angry.”
A teacher who’s worked at the middle school for the past 19 years added, “People are jaded and suspicious because we did this 10 years ago and we put in all that time and effort, and we were ignored. When it came out that the middle school would possibly close, we lost money from rotary, for the students and teachers, people moved their students to other schools. It was basically a jump ship of paranoia.”
As it drew close to 7:30 p.m., WCSD Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield said, “We always have to balance what the need is for the community, putting the students first, and we have a financial budget. When enrollment numbers are down, we have to pay attention to that.”
Facility Modernization Plan*
- October 2023- December 2023
- October 14 – Online Survey Closes
- November 28 – Draft Final Facility Modernization Plan Report to Board of Trustees
- December 7 – Final Facility Modernization Plan Report to Capital Funding Protection Committee
- December 13 – Final Facility Modernization Plan Report to Board of Trustees
*Final plan submitted to Trustees to include budget set-asides for geographically remote schools, including Incline
All Board of Trustees meetings are open to the public; information is available at http://www.washoeschools.net.
Proposed Incline Facilities Working Group Timeline
- Early 2024: Incline Facilities Working Group Online Application opens Will be shared widely with the community
- May 2024: Incline Facilities Working Group membership finalized
- Summer 2024: Incline Facilities Working Group begins meeting
- May 2025: Incline Facilities Working Group presents report and recommendations to Zoning Advisory Committee
- June 2025: Zoning Advisory Committee presents recommendations to the Board of Trustees
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.