Silver State Charter School plans to triple size

Palmer Engineering Group, Ltd. rendering

Palmer Engineering Group, Ltd. rendering

After resolving some concerns from the Carson City Airport Authority, Silver State Charter School is reappearing before the planning commission Wednesday to seek approval for a $10 million school next to the airport.

"We're growing 30 percent every year," said Principal Steve Knight. "It's not spending taxpayer money wisely putting money into a building we don't own."

Knight is applying for a special-use permit to build a 60,000-square-foot school on five acres next to the airport at 2222 E. College Parkway. It will allow the school to more than triple its floor space and double its population of about 550 students.

"We have a huge waiting list," Knight said, "we just have a hard time accommodating them."

The school first approached the commission in May, but pulled the application after members of the airport authority objected.

The main concerns were safety of the students and that school officials would object to the noise from the airport.

Knight said the location of the school adjacent to the airport is safer than the school's current location at the corner of College Parkway and Highway 395, which is in the flight path of the runway.

He said 22 schools throughout the state are located next to airports, including the Ace Academy and Washoe High School in Reno.

To address the noise concern, he said, the gymnasium will be built as a buffer between the runway and classrooms, and other building materials will be used as noise abatement.

The owners of the Comstock Casino may also oppose the project because the school's proximity may negatively impact future plans to expand the casino, they said in a letter to city planners.

However, Knight said, he does not foresee any conflict because several Nevada schools are near casinos, including Carson High School that is situated near the Gold Dust West.

He rebuffed concerns that students may go there to try to purchase alcohol, saying the school is currently next to a 7-Eleven convenience store and across the street from a Bully's Sports Bar & Grill. He said he's never received complaints from either establishment.

Despite obstacles, Knight said, the airport is the best place for the school, with an emphasis on aerospace and high-tech programs.

"All of our high-tech, state-of-the art businesses are around the airport, and this is where our students are going to be getting jobs," he said. "We don't want to do an aviation program from a school in the middle of town."

If approved by the planning commission, the Carson City Board of Supervisors will also have to approve the plan.

As the school grows, Knight said, staff will also increase from the 39 teachers it now employs.

"This is a good thing for Carson City," he said. "This school is a real plus for Western Nevada."

The charter school built in 2003 has grown from about 40 students to around 550 and now includes a junior high. It is a a hybrid school, where students take classes online but are also required to come into the school at least once a week.

The planned gym and grassy field will allow them to expand the physical-education program.

Because it is a charter school, paid for through state funds based on the number of students enrolled, it cannot seek a bond issue to build the school. Instead, Knight said, the money has to come from the funds allotted them per pupil and from private investors.


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