Washoe County’s Overcrowding Crisis Continues

Schools here in the Washoe County School District (WCSD) are facing the issues of overcrowding classrooms and needing repairs. Schools all across Reno, Sparks and Spanish Springs are facing high student-teacher ratios and the number is continuing to rise.  

The WCSD can only do so much with the current funding that they are receiving. WCSD lacks funding due to lack of tax revenue, and the donations they do receive can only be used for certain projects and aren’t enough to build new schools or make repairs. Elementary schools can cost around $23 million, middle schools $55 million, and high schools up to around $110 million.  

With current funding, it can force elementary schools onto multi-track year-round calendars and middle and high schools onto double sessions. Nowwhat is a multi-track and double session? A multi-track year-round schedule is when a school is divided up into four groups of students and run classes year-round, with one group always on break and the other three groups in session, on a rotating schedule. Double sessions are when almost two separate schools are being ran in one building. One “school” can go from approximately 6 am until noon, and the other “school” attends from noon to 6 pm.  

So, what’s currently being done to help this issue? Washoe has worked on rezoning, placing additional portable classrooms, as well as using libraries, music rooms, and storage spaces as classrooms. These are all “external” options. The “internal” options include putting two teachers and two classes in one classroom called “team teaching,” staggering schedules, removing teacher prep periods, “teachers on a cart,” as well cutting back on elective classes.  

Students here at Hug High have also talked about the consequences that overcrowding can bring. A sophomore student here was asked to compare her biggest class and her smallest class. She said her biggest class was full and there was little space. Students bump into each other and not everyone talks with one another. With her smaller class, students are more social with one another while still staying on task with their work. Students receive more attention from their teacher and there is more space for students.

A teacher was also asked to compare her bigger and smaller classes. Both the student and teacher had similar things to say about their fuller classes, such as no space, being too loud, and having a claustrophobic feeling. The teacher added that their bigger classes were more tiring to teach and that there is little growth. Her smaller classes show more growth and higher scores. Smaller classes tend to be more talkative with one another and feel more like a community. Students receive more help and one-on-one attention. Larger classes tend to be around 30 students in one classroom while smaller classrooms are around 20 students.  

With additional funding, repairing older schools is possible and we can avoid double sessions as well as remove schools from multi-track schedules. WCSD is still working with the community to help with overcrowding and needed repairs in our schools. Nevada schools are known to have the largest class sizes in the country with Clark County having the largest student population in Nevada. Clark County also faces little funding, and has more drastic solutions compared to Washoe.