Fence funding goes back to school board

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Siobhan McAndrew, RGJ


Of the 27 schools where the Washoe County School District approved spending $1 million for new fencing, at least one school already had the project completed and others have a majority of playground areas already fenced.


The school district confirmed the errors after the Reno Gazette-Journal visited and called some of the 27 schools about perimeter fencing after last week’s school board meeting.


School Board trustees received a memo on Friday stating that new information about the fencing and a new request for approval would be brought in front of the board again on June 10. The school district did not respond to requests from the RGJ for a copy of the memo.


Pete Etchart, the chief operations officer for the district, said he met with the capital projects team on Monday and there will now be visits made to each school before next week’s meeting.


Etchart said the list of 27 schools presented before board last month had old information, including that Lena Juniper Elementary School in Sparks would need $49,675 to put a secure perimeter around the school. Juniper said its fencing project was completed last year.


Etchart said some of the schools have not been visited since 2011. He said in some cases schools may have put in additional fencing using individual school budget funds, fundraising or donations.


“It is embarrassing that we made this mistake,” Board President Barbara Clark said. “We need to look at this when any capital items come up and see if a survey was done in recent months and if the numbers we are given are accurate.”


She did add that at some schools on the list, fencing has gaps and may not be to the safety standards recommended by school police. She also said the district is paying extra attention to fencing needs near kindergarten classrooms.


At last week’s board meeting, trustees said they did not want the fences to create a prison-like atmosphere. They said the $977,479 project would keep children safe who may try to run off school playgrounds.


“It is to keep the little ones from running off and getting hurt. It isn’t a perimeter that we are going to electrify to keep people out,” Trustee Howard Rosenberg said.


The school district said it will now discuss if trustees want to replace fencing that is 4 to 5 feet tall in some spots. The fencing project trustees approved was to install 6 foot fences.


This may save the district money including at Sarah Winnemucca Elementary School, which was budgeted to cost the district more than $112,000 under this project. Much of the school fencing around its playground areas is currently 5-feet tall.


Project costs

Washoe County School Board of Trustees on May 27 approved spending $977,479 to put secure fence perimeters at 27 elementary schools. Here are the project costs by school:


Beasley: $3,353


Brown: $41,355


Caughlin Ranch: $24,838


Diedrichsen: $49,675


Dodson: $49,675


Donner Springs: $25,000


Double Diamond: $24,838


Dunn: $49,675


Hall: $24,838


Hidden Valley: $24,838


Huffaker: $24,838


Hunsberger: $24,838


Incline: $49,675


Juniper: $49,675


Lenz: $49,675


Melton: $24,838


Moss: $24,838


Natchez: $50,000


Sepulveda: $24,838


Alice Smith: $24,838


Spanish Springs: $24,838


Taylor: $24,838


Towles: $49,675


Van Gorder: $24,838


Westergard: $49,675


Whitehead: $24,838


Winnemucca: $112,639


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