WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The Wichita Falls ISD superintendent said he hopes by the end of this year voters will have approved a nearly $300 million bond issue to build two new high schools.
Before that can happen, the school board spent its first school board meeting of the year figuring out what that bond package will look like.
“2020 is going to be an awesome thing for the WFISD, I think,” WFISD Superintendent Michael Kuhrt said.
With a new year comes the possibility of big changes for the Wichita Falls ISD.
District officials are focusing on a possible November bond election in order to build new two high schools.
“We’re trying to refine that and hoping to have a solid bond plan done here by next month and then long-range facilities plan that we can share with people and share with the community over the next several months to get feedback,” Kuhrt said.
That 15-year-old plan looks at every single building in the WFISD and the school board will decide whether to renovate, add on or retire those buildings.
“We’re still trying to put all of that together, and it starts with building two new high schools, and from there allows us to reuse some of the current high schools as potential middle school facilities and potentially use the middle school as elementary school facilities,” Yeager said.
From there, the school board members hope to adjust elementary school campuses and possibly close older facilities that are in need of extensive upgrades and repair.
However, money is tight for the school district, and they know they can only ask taxpayers so much.
“We’re limited on how much we can bond that we can ask people to pay for, so right now, it looks like the most we can ask taxpayers at this time is about what it will cost to build those two new high schools, which is about $290 million,” Kuhrt said.
With the long-range facility plan, the school board is looking beyond 2020 to 2027 when the WFISD could call for another bond—this one possibly amounting to $100 million to renovate other facilities and possibly build one or two new elementary schools.
Academic achievement is also the main goal for the school district in 2020.
Kurht said the WFISD hopes to improve reading at the first-grade level throughout the district by bringing in new reading strategies.
Other school board members’ goals:
Now originally for that story, KFDX requested to speak to every school board member to see what they wanted the school board to accomplish in 2020; however, we ran into roadblocks due to a school board policy.
In the past, KFDX has interviewed several former and current school board members about the issues facing the district.
Though in recent years, the WFISD public information’s office has limited availability to only WFISD Superintendent Michael Kuhrt and school board president Elizabeth Yeager citing a board policy, approved by members.
“The board can speak at any point in time because they are elected officials,” Kuhrt said. “They can speak to whoever they want to speak to, but the board has chosen designate board president and myself as the spokesperson of the district.”
According to the policy, board members are asked to use “extreme discretion” when they do talk to the media.
It states members are also told to notify the superintendent when they plan to do an interview.
This policy is unusual compared to similar initiates like the city council, commissioners court and other area school boards where any elected officials.