WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — This school bond cycle is finally over for Wichita Falls ISD. With the 2nd bond passing, advocates that voted yes for the bond are very excited.
And, advocates say adding these facilities to the new high schools creates a better future for the children and for the city.
After voters voted for new high schools in November, but not the athletic facilities to go with them, school district officials re-evaluated their presentation.
Six months later, voters approved the plan to give the new high schools new athletic facilities to go with them.
“Every single coach in Wichita Falls is excited about a new school. To have the new facilities is just gonna complete the excitement. I know on our side it will be a relief,” Carlye Bindel said.
The facilities would consist of an eight-lane track, fields for a number of different sports, including an area for marching band.
The total impact of this election is 1.5 cents which Superintendent Mike Kuhrt says equates to about 11.25 per year on a home valued at $100,000 with a homestead exemption.
Margaret Humphreys, who voted for the bond, is a realtor and says these schools and facilities will be great for families moving to the area.
“That’s one of the number one reasons. They wanna see that there is a good school system and we just need to be competitive and have the facilities that other cities our size have,” said Humphreys
With the facilities being built with the new schools, both women say this helps create a bright future for the children of the city.
“As a coach’s wife, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to go all over north texas to see what else is out there and it’s going to be so exciting to have that here,” Bindel said.
“People have said that they want the tradition to live on and tradition has always been a big topic in Wichita Falls, and tradition is extremely important. But that tradition will never go away but we can start some new traditions and that’s what we have to do,” Humphreys said.
New schools, new tradition, same love for the children in WFISD.
District officials expect the schools and facilities to be done by August 2024.
Once the new high schools are complete, the next phase of the Long-Range Facility Plan calls for Rider and Hirschi to be repurposed as middle schools.
When that happens, the school district will retire Jefferson Elementary and Wichita Falls High School. Then, the WFISD will do small move-in renovations to Hirschi and Rider.
McNiel students will move to Rider and Kirby students will move into Hirschi. McNiel would then be kept open but as an elementary school.
“Jefferson students and staff will move into McNiel along with overflow from West and Fowler because that’s where we’re really crowded right now. Just because of all of the growth that’s happening on the southwest side of town,” Kuhrt told KFDX in November.
This is all part of the district’s 30-year plan to touch every building in the district to either renovate it, add onto it or retire it. Future bonds would be dependent upon the needs for the district at the time, but there were tentative plans in place in November for a bond in 2027 and 2035.
The 2027 bond package includes major renovations to Hirschi and Rider because Kuhrt said those facilities have to last about 30 more years in their new roles. Barwise would also get renovations.
The future bond would also feature additions and renovations to Crockett, Zundy, Burgess, Gaynes, Scotland Park, Booker T. Washington, and Lamar as well as the retirement of some of the district’s oldest buildings.
“The long-range plan and the work that would happen in 2027 and 2035 would not include a cost increase to the taxpayers, ” WFISD school board member Elizabeth Yeager told KFDX in November.
“That would be a zero-cost bond. We would still have to go to the voters and ask for their approval to maintain the 32 cent increase we are proposing in November, but the work that we’ve planned out over the next 30 years could be done with that same tax rate.”
That potential 2035 bond would include additions and renovations on schools on the south side of town. The school board is also expected to consider options of selling retired buildings to be repurposed as apartments, moving administration offices, or keeping it for students to use temporarily while other construction projects are being done.