WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — For the past four years, Kirby Middle School has performed poorly in academic ratings earning a warning from the Texas Education Agency that improvements must be made and if they aren’t made then Kirby could be no more.
It was a school that was once nationally recognized as a Texas Blue Ribbon School but now struggles to see student success.
“Kirby has scored at below improvement requirements or an F, for four years in a row so this is year five, and after year five is when the state, the Texas Education Agency, could come in and take over a school,” Wichita Falls Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Donny Lee said.
Each year schools in the WFISD are graded on a scale of A through F by the T.E.A. and for Kirby Middle School, the constant failing has their future in jeopardy.
“As you know Dr. Lee said we are in year five of failure, so it means what we have done in the past has proved not to be working. So, we got to try something and revolutionize the system. Try something a little bit different in order for us to get back in the right direction,” Kirby Principal Alston Calliste said.
Principal Calliste says he and Lee are aware that if improvement isn’t shown, it could lead to two very drastic outcomes.
“Option one is to close down a campus so he would close Kirby Middle Schools and two-thirds of the student population would have to go somewhere else or he can install a board of managers, which is another group of citizens that’s in Wichita Falls that applies to be on the board of managers and the current board of trustees would no longer govern the district,” Lee said.
But Lee doesn’t see that happening.
“We have taken all of our best math and reading teachers that we could find at the ed-center, and we pulled them out of the ed center so they are no longer even employed in that building and what we did we put them right here at Kirby,” Lee said.
Kirby now has math and reading specialists in-house as well as tutors, plus mentors being brought in to help with student success.
“A lot of our kids, they lack that home that parental guidance because we know a lot of them are single parents. They just not there and that single mom is working two or three jobs so the kids are raising themselves sometimes,” Principal Calliste said.
With this solid game plan, both Lee and Calliste are confident Kirby can and will improve.
“A lot of the kids they went to Burgess came to Kirby and go on to Hirschi. So they see this as a vital part of this community. So imagine the community without Kirby? There will be a big vacancy there,” Principal Calliste said.
“We’re going to get it done. Failure isn’t an option because the lives of those it will affect won’t just be the students, it’ll be the staff and the teachers as well and the district,” Lee said.
A team effort, to create a future for Kirby Middle School.
The district won’t know the improvement results until August or September of 2023. Principal Calliste also encourages more parent participation on Kirby’s campus.