WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL)—After being hired as a full-time teacher back in 1889, Kate Haynes served the WFISD for 52 years before retiring, and back in 1964, a new school was erected and named after the long-time educator, Kate Haynes Elementary, most recently known as Haynes Northwest Academy. But nearly 60 years later, the district has decided to close the doors to Haynes and consolidate the current students and staff. Most of the students and staff will be making the transition to Kate Burgess Elementary, and the old Haynes building. It’s actually going to serve as a Haynes Head Start next school year.

It was an emotional yet bitter-sweet day for many current and former staff members of Haynes, as they finish out their last days in a school that many have worked in for decades, including former 1988 Kate Haynes Principal, Mark Lukert who was just one of the 17 principals who walked the halls of Haynes.

“It was my first year as a principal so I was kind of nervous getting it started but I had the best staff and the kids and the parents were so supportive, it was probably one of the best years I’ve ever had,” Lukert said.

Something that principal of the past two years, Tristan Browne has experienced firsthand.
He said although his students knew this move was coming, the reality is finally setting in.

“I think they are happy about it because I’ve had a few kids tell me ‘Hey Mr. Browne I’m going to be at Burgess next year, and you’re going to be there too’ so they’re happy to the fact that I’m going to be there, and they are going to be there with me, even the parents as well they’re happy knowing that I will continue over there with their students,” Browne said.

And although it’s a sad day for some, Lukert who also serves on the WFISD school said this was a decision that did not come easy.

“Our district, the size it is compared to other districts that are our size we have about eight to ten, six to eight more buildings than any school district our size so if we’re ever going to have money to give raises if were ever going to have money to improve the schools that we have we’ve got to save some money and we can save a lot of money by closing some of our schools and combining them,” Lukert said.

Something that Lukert said residents will start to see more in coming years, allowing the district to improve facilities for future generations. The last official day at Haynes Northwest Academy will be this Friday, the next school on the list to be officially shut down will be Lamar Elementary.