Planned expansion for Silver State Charter Schools approved
Despite opposition from neighbors, planning commissioners approved a plan for Silver State Charter Schools to build a 65,000-square-foot campus next to the airport.
The plans will next need to be approved by city supervisors at the Jan. 7 meeting.
A representative from the neighboring Comstock Casino told commissioners there were no immediate concerns, but a school could make future development more difficult for the casino.
“This is an issue of compatibility and expectation,” said Audra Miller from Lumos and Associates representing the casino. “They are concerned about the future. Everyone knows values change over time.”
Now, if owners want to change their gaming license, they can, she explained. If a school were nearby, she argued, the burden would shift to casino owners to show there would be no negative impact on the school.
However, commissioner William Vance said it was not the board’s role to mitigate future conflicts.
“I personally think we are obligated to make this decision with the existing ordinances and the existing conditions,” he said. “I strongly support the concept.”
Vice chairman Craig Mullet was the lone dissenting vote, saying, “we’re pushing the burden back on the existing property owner.”
Chairman Mark Kimbrough was absent and Steve Reynolds, a trustee on the Carson City School Board, recused himself from the discussion.
Ronni Hannaman, executive director of the Carson City Chamber of Commerce, voiced the chamber’s support of the online charter school.
“We have been calling for a second high school in this town for a long time,” she said.
“They have a great vo-tech school. They’re doing a lot of things we really need for our future and to have a proper workforce.”
John Uhart, a local real estate broker, said the $10 million-$15 million project would be a shot of life into an economy that’s seen a 65 percent reduction in building.
“It’s going to generate jobs,” he said. “It’s going to generate construction materials. There’s not going to be construction of this magnitude in Carson City for several years.”
If approved by the Carson City Board of Supervisors, the school will be built on five acres next to the airport at 2222 E. College Parkway. It will allow the school, currently at 3716 N. Carson St., to more than triple its floor space and double its population of about 550 students.
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.
Silver State Principal Steve 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.
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.
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.
He said the next hurdle will be to find funding despite a cutback in money received from the state due to the struggling economy.
If all goes well, he said, the school should be completed in 2012.
“We’re excited with all the possibilities the airport offers,” he said. “We need to be located with all the high-tech businesses in that area to help these kids not only get jobs, but good-paying jobs. This is a big opportunity for Carson City.