As the elected Washoe County School District Trustee (A) that serves Incline Village, I learned about the proposal to close Incline Middle School at approximately the same time the public learned of the school district’s plans. This proposal hasn’t been determined or ratified, however, I have and share the many concerns of the Incline Village parents and residents.
I was away on Spring Break when I had heard about the district’s plans and returned to attend the April 5th standing-room-only meeting where I and hundreds of attendees saw, for the first time, the Powerpoint presentation from CannonDesign on Incline Middle School.
To note, Incline Middle School (IMS) was built in 1981 so the building is relatively new and, according to the consultant at CannonDesign, only costs the district $1 million annually to maintain.
In studying this proposal, I came up with 15 reasons and questions that warrant concern:
1. Many legal questions exist about ownership and restrictions on IMS.
2. If we close IMS, there is no going back! There is no Plan B.
3. Incline Village pays much more in taxes than they get back.
4. The speakers on April 5th were not prepared with research to address concerns or answer questions. Many of the attendees had done their homework and presented many reasons to reject the proposal of closing IMS.
5. Mixing grade 7 with grade 12 invites bullying, assaults, sexual misconduct and other serious matters that would cost more than keeping IVMS open.
6. It seems clear that Incline Village High School, built in 1968, cannot physically accommodate the influx of grades 7 and 8.
7. Pulling the tiger’s tail: The refunds from the last Incline lawsuit are just now settled. The people of Incline have shown their resolve on matters and via donations, contribute greatly to WCSD. The meeting’s discussion even focused on residents seeking legislative changes to form their own school district–at great cost to WCSD. Unless there is/was an overwhelming reason, it is not prudent to pursue this action. The April 5th meeting had hundreds in opposition, standing room only.
8. How many IV kids go to private schools? We should expect parents to pull kids from WCSD 7 and 8 if the Middle School closes.
9. What happens if a major private school closed and those kids reverted back to K-12? I’m told there are upwards of approximately 100 middle school children eligible for IMS that attend elsewhere.
10. The stated annual cost of $1 million to maintain the middle school is not a lot, overall.
11. Demographics seem to support that the student population could increase.
12. Incline residents were not adequately noticed or involved in the process to date, nor was I as the district Trustee.
13. The proposed Superintendent’s Regulation on school closure seems at odds with the letter and intent of the Board Policy- the way forward to close a school is 100% a Board decision.
14. We reject the “repurpose” word. That means sell. Repurpose would/ should be to re-use the WCSD property for WCSD purposes.
15. This ties into Affordable Housing that may be addressed as part of the solution to re-model IMS. We do have WC1 and other property tax Capitol Project funds and Incline deserves their fair share.
Although the WCSD Board President Beth Smith informed me that the upcoming meeting on May 3rd is not a trustee function and I was not given notice of this upcoming in advance, I encourage the Incline community to attend the meeting and respectfully demonstrate and articulate your concerns. I am told there will be more of you attending this next meeting. Also, I have heard from a majority of you that you oppose the school’s closure, and although I cannot attend the meeting, I hear you and share your concerns.
Jeff Church is the Trustee for Incline Village and views expressed are his and do not represent those of the Washoe County school District or any government agency.