WICHITA FALLS, TX–A new wave of uncertainty is washing over parents in the WFISD, as the district prepares to roll out a long range facilities plan that includes additions, renovations, new construction and possible consolidation.
“I’d just like to know more details as far as if we do go to two schools obviously, one school would have to close,” said concerned parent, Paris Ward. “What school will that be? Are we closing all schools and building two new schools or if we’re building one school? It just raises a lot of questions and a lot of ‘not concrete answers’ right now. But i think the point of this forum was just to get the conversation started.”
In 2014, a $125 million plan would have created two comprehensive high schools by consolidating Rider and Old High into one large school with a separate 9th-grade facility.
Hirschi would have also received improvements becoming the second and smaller high school in the district. This bond was overwhelmingly turned down.
Right now, there are two working groups that serve as bridges between the community and the school board: one will address issues for elementary schools while the other focuses on our aging high schools.
School board member Bob Payton says there are many misconceptions regarding the future of the schools, and while plans are in motion…nothing is set in stone.
“No buildings have been talked about being closed down, we’re a million miles away from that,” said Payton. “All we’re trying to do right now is gather information for the working group so they can start formulating some recommendations to bring to the board to say this is what we hear the community saying.”
Yet, when it comes to the state of these schools, Chamber of Commerce President Henry Florsheim believes something needs to be done to not only help the students, but the city as a whole.
“If we expect to be a great, great city, if we want to make it easy on our companies when trying to recruit people from out of town to move here, and if we want to keep our citizens here: we’ve got to have great school facilities,” says Florsheim. “You can just look around the region and see how many communities have built new schools, and I don’t think it’s our ambition for our kids to go to a 100 year old school building that’s got rat traps in it and holes down in the floor going to the basement. I think we need better than that.”
Bob Payton says they’re simply trying the hear what the common themes are across the community are, and what the biggest points of pain might be before any plans for a new school bond are made.
For more information on the school board’s plans and schedules for future forums, click here.