WFISD Superintendent Michael Kuhrt spoke to NTHBA Members during the March 5th general membership luncheon.
He said, “board members are in agreement two new equal-sized high schools, each costing $142 million to $143 million, would be ideal. Board Members would like to see the facility doors opening in 2024 or 2025.
The passing of a school bond in the November 2020 election will again be the determining factor as to whether Wichita Falls Schools become state of the art facilities. Community members must vote “yes” to a school bond totaling $290 million. This decision was made during the February School Board Meeting.
Mr. Kurht went into detail on how the district would move forward if the bond passes. The District will close Wichita Falls High School. It will repurpose Rider High School and Hirschi High School as middle schools with a limited scope of work costing about $1.5 million to $2 million apiece, with move-ins scheduled for 2026. It will similarly expand Barwise Middle School at a cost of $1.5 million for greater use in 2026.
A long-range facility plan has been created that stretches out until 2055 and will be carried out in 3 phases.
Phase 1 would be the two high schools which are detailed below:
High school No. 1:
- 363,280 square feet
- Includes International Baccalaureate Program
- Maximum capacity of 1,695 students
- Functional capacity of 1,526 students
- Total estimated project cost of $145.2 million
High school No. 2
- 351,672 square feet
- 100 students from high school No. 2 to attend the International Baccalaureate Program at high school No. 1
- 1,595 maximum capacity students
- 1,426 functional capacity students
- Total estimated project cost of $147.2 million
Phase 2 would be the renovation of Barwise, Rider High School and Hirschi as mentioned previously,
and begin the process of renovating and closing down elementary schools after the call for another bond election in 2027.
With the current plan, the earliest school closure would be Wichita Falls High School in 2025. Other elementary school closures wouldn’t come until 2028.
Kuhrt said, “The bond would add 32 cents to the tax rate, bringing it to $1.47 to fund construction of the two new high schools.
Superintendent Kuhrt mentioned by doing things in 3 phases, there would be no additional cost to citizens for the future bond elections but they would still have to have those bonds approved.
Typically, once a bond passes, a district spends one year in a design phase, then two years in a construction phase. With the current construction boom in Texas, that timeline is about six months longer in each phase. However, a district can still hit the three-year mark if it is willing to pay accelerated costs in design and construction, said David Potter of Bundy, Young, Sims & Potter Inc.
The WFISD School Board continue to move forward by visiting schools to determine the design and features they would like to see for the new schools in Wichita Falls. Rather than be reactive when the time comes, they will proactive so work can begin as soon as the Bond passes in November.
For many years now we’ve watched and listened to the elected officials, the chamber of commerce, downtown proud and many of the citizens of Wichita Falls work continuously trying to grow our City. Downtown has been revamped with new and innovated businesses, living quarters and entertainment facilities, Lake Wichita revitalization is occurring, the new state of the art CEC Center is preparing students for the workforce and SAFB continues to expand. In order to compete with neighboring metropolitan areas, Wichita Falls needs educational facilities that accommodate today’s way of learning and progress with how educating our youth will be in the future.
You have the choice to shape the future of the WFISD with your vote in November. Please be sure to get out and VOTE!