WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A $290 million bond for the Wichita Falls Independent School District to build two new high schools is on the ballot this November.
If that bond passes and 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.
Once that happens, WFISD will retire Jefferson Elementary and Wichita Falls High School.
Then, WFISD will do small move-in renovations to Hirschi High School and Rider High School.
McNiel Middle School students would move to Rider, and Kirby Middle School students would move to Hirschi.
McNiel would then be kept open, but as an elementary school.
WFISD Superintendent Michael Kuhrt said students from multiple current elementary schools would occupy the newly repurposed McNiel Elementary School.
“Jefferson students and staff will move into McNiel along with overflow from West and Fowler,” Kuhrt said. “That’s where we are really crowded right now just because of all the growth that’s happening on the southwest side of town.”
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.
Kuhrt said future bonds would be dependent upon the needs of the district at the time.
There are tentative plans in place for a bond in 2027 and 2035.
Right now, 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.
And, the future bond would also feature additions and renovations to Crockett, Zundy, Burgess, Haynes, Scottland Park, Booker T. Washington and Lamar, plus the retirement of some of the district’s oldest buildings.
WFISD School Board President Elizabeth Yeager said the new bonds would be zero cost bonds to taxpayers.
“The long range plan and the work that would happen in 2027 and 2035 would not include a cost increase to the tax payers,” Yeager said. “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 the same tax rate.”
The potential 2035 bond would include additions and renovations on schools on the south side of Wichita Falls.
So, if the 2020 bond passes in November, the WFISD School Board will then 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.