WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Early voting began on October 12 and the Wichita Falls ISD school bond is one of the most talked-about issues on the ballot.
Many residents have voiced opinions for and against the bond that could see two new high schools come to the area in the next few years.
If the bond is voted in, the district plans to repurpose Hirschi into a middle school. And, the group, People Invested in the Equity of Reallocating our Schools, believes that would result in the further deterioration of the Northside community.
“This is not the best thing for us. This is not the best thing for our neighborhoods, this is not the best thing for our children and we should oppose it,” New Jerusalem Baptist Church pastor Reverend Angus Thompson said.
WFISD is on the brink of building two new high schools through a $290 million bond. If the bond is voted in this election cycle, it would bring brand new buildings and repurpose dated schools like Hirschi.
But according to the PIERS group, the repurposing of Hirschi is not in the best interest of the community.
“They have forgotten about the fact that Booker T. Washington some years ago was a thriving community, a thriving school. Of course, now the area is a wasteland almost. And we don’t want further deterioration to occur on this side of town,” Thompson said.
The district plans to build the schools in the southeast and southwest areas of the city.
Superintendent Michael Kuhrt said visibility played a major role in choosing the location.
“We want you to be able to see the buildings prominently displayed in our town because that just shows investment in the community. So highway frontage was a huge part of that,” Kuhrt said.
“For students even to get to the facilities, it’s relatively easy from just about anywhere in town,” WFISD Board of trustees president Elizabeth Yeager said. “You’re not having to drive through neighborhoods or be slowed down by traffic lights. You’re on the freeways and it should be quick to get to these campuses.”
While WFISD urges voters to vote yes to the bond because of the impact these schools can have on future generations, PIERS begs the question of whose kids these schools actually help.
“We are on life support here on the northside and we don’t want the school to end up killing the patient,” Thompson said.
Some believe the school bond has the potential to be great for Wichita Falls but some say it would be demoralizing for certain parts of the city.