WFISD School Board to discuss attendance zones, use of facilities on Friday

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With big changes coming to Wichita Falls ISD, officials plan to discuss attendance zones and facilities during a special session at noon Friday at the Education Center.

Wichita Falls Independent School District board members met on Sept. 14, 2021, as shown in this file photo.
Wichita Falls Independent School District board members met on Sept. 14, 2021, as shown in this file photo.

The WFISD School Board is slated for discussions on possible attendance zone modifications and the use of facilities during the meeting at 1104 Broad St.

The district is building two new high schools and athletic facilities for about $282.7 million as part of the first phase of plans to overhaul and modernize WFISD facilities.

The opening of Memorial and Legacy high schools, expected in fall 2024, means a cascade of changes to how schools are used across the district.

Memorial High School will be at 6422 Seymour Highway in southwest Wichita Falls, and Legacy High School will be at Windthorst Road and Henry S. Grace Freeway in the southeast part of the city.

The School Board's plans call for Hirschi and Rider high schools to become middle schools. Wichita Falls High School will be retired.

More: WFISD trustees vote to move forward with estimated $282.7 million high school construction projects

The switch from three high schools to two and other changes bring the need for officials to redraw attendance zone lines.

On Nov. 15, the School Board voted to forge ahead with scaled-back plans to build Memorial and Legacy high schools and their athletic facilities.

This west campus site map shows the location of proposed athletic facilities  for a new high school to be built at 6422 Seymour Highway in southwest Wichita Falls.
This west campus site map shows the location of proposed athletic facilities for a new high school to be built at 6422 Seymour Highway in southwest Wichita Falls.

Officials modified the original plans for the new schools because rising inflation and supply chain problems triggered millions of dollars in higher costs.

Trustees approved a guaranteed maximum price of about $282.7 million for the reduced school construction plans.

That shakes out to about $270.21 million for the new high schools and almost $12.5 million for the athletic facilities.

More: WFISD must scale back plans for new high schools

The new plans call for WFISD to ante up $24 million from its rainy day funds, also called the fund balance.

WFISD Superintendent Mike Kuhrt proposed using $20 million of pandemic relief funds for staff salaries. That would free up district funds to flow into the construction projects.

In addition, $4 million from the district's rainy day funds, formerly to help boost athletic facilities up to competition level, will instead help pay for the high schools' construction.

The modifications to each new school include the following:

  • Four feet lower ceilings in the common areas, planned to have steep ceilings.

  • Using less expensive materials in some cases.

  • Scaling back on auditoriums' rigging and lighting, and not having movable partitions to create flexible classrooms.

  • Spending less on furniture.

  • Cutting back on athletic facilities instead of making them competition level.

  • Not having planned coaches' offices, rifle ranges and wrestling rooms.

In the Nov. 15 vote that allowed construction to move forward, School Board President Mike Rucker, At-large Trustee Elizabeth Yeager, Place 1 Trustee Bob Payton and Place 5 Trustee Tom Bursey voted in favor of the measure.

This east campus site plan shows the location of proposed athletic facilities for a new high school to be built at Windthorst Road and Henry S. Grace Freeway in southeast Wichita Falls.
This east campus site plan shows the location of proposed athletic facilities for a new high school to be built at Windthorst Road and Henry S. Grace Freeway in southeast Wichita Falls.

At-large Trustee Katherine McGregor and Place 3 Trustee Mark Lukert voted against it.

Place 4 Trustee Dale Harvey was not present at the meeting because of health problems.

More: Five things to know about your rising school taxes and the new WFISD budget

More: If voters approve the WFISD school bond measure Nov. 3, what would they get?

WFISD Agenda December 3, 2021 Special Session by Denise Nelson on Scribd

Trish Choate, enterprise watchdog reporter for the Times Record News, covers education, courts, breaking news, politics and more. Contact Trish with news tips at tchoate@gannett.com. Her Twitter handle is @Trishapedia.

This article originally appeared on Wichita Falls Times Record News: WFISD trustees to meet Friday to mull attendance zones

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