Times Record News Article | August 28, 2019
Wichita Falls ISD trustees still have more work ahead to hammer out a plan to modernize school facilities after hashing through elementary school options in a marathon work session Tuesday night.
WFISD Board members might be able to create a timeline including costs within the next month or so after a couple more such meetings, Superintendent Michael Kuhrt told trustees during the three-hour meeting.
“The most awesome thing we have going now is that people are saying when and not why because everyone, I think, has agreed that we need to do something,” Kuhrt said.
Read the full article here.
Here’s an update on the progress of WFISD bond planning and Modern School Catalyst for Wichita Falls.
- The deadline to announce a bond election for November 2019 is August 19, 2019
- The WFISD Board decided more time was needed to develop a comprehensive bond package and market it appropriately to the public
- The proposed election will be postponed to sometime in 2020; quite possibly in Nov. 2020
- By allowing more time, it will give the Board the opportunity to come to a better consensus on the right plan
- Volunteer groups, like the Falls Future Action Team, can continue to offer support and continue spreading the word about needed facility upgrades
- The “Building the Falls Future PAC” has been formed and will serve as an independent fundraising and marketing arm supporting the proposed bond
- As the bond plan progresses and materializes, we will further organize volunteer groups to “get out the vote”
- Tshirts will soon be distributed with the slogan “The Future is Bright” intended to show support for WFISD improvements; selling for $10 per shirt
Come back soon to continue monitoring the progress of this Catalyst.
The Action Team last met as a group at the CEC (Career Education Center) and discussed ways that the Team can assist WFISD in developing and promoting a plan for modern school facilities. They were joined by Superintendent Kuhrt and WFISD Board member Bob Payton.
Since that time, several new Board members took office and they have outlined their timeline for developing the next bond package to construct new facilities and consolidate existing ones. Here’s the summary:
- The Board agreed that a May 2019 vote was too soon so they opted to put the next bond on the November 2019 ballot
- A public survey was circulated in December 2018 that will provide community feedback on what the public believes is needed
- The Board is currently forming two citizen committees to meet from February to May 2019 to develop the facility plans
- One group will focus on secondary schools and the other group will focus on elementary
- The secondary schools committee will focus on construction of a new high school or schools
- The elementary committee will focus on consolidation of existing facilities and whether new construction is needed in certain areas
- They plan to have a final package ready by the end of May 2019
- The vote is expected to be placed on the November 2019 ballot giving time during the Summer and early Fall for community education about the bond package
This Action Team is unique in that they are following the timeline set forth by the WFISD Board. Their purpose is to promote economic development and educational improvement in the Wichita Falls region by helping in this process. They will have the opportunity to assist WFISD in promoting the chosen plan and educating the public about the benefits of creating modern facilities.
A March meeting is planned to discuss specific ways that the Modern Schools Action Team can benefit this initiative.
Facility upgrades needed in the Wichita Falls Independent School District to boost student experiences, community pride, and external perceptions.
The survey said…
On the online survey administered as part of the public input process, more than 1,300 individuals indicated that they or one of their children had attended a Wichita Falls Independent School District (WFISD) in the past five years. Approximately 62 percent of these individuals agreed with the statement, “Children in this district receive a high-quality education.” But roughly the same proportion – 65 percent – agreed with the statement, “The quality of our public schools inhibit our community’s growth.” These responses may seem contradictory at first, but they are likely a product of a prominent theme to emerge from public input: stakeholders widely believe that the district’s facilities – especially its high schools – are outdated.
Input participants noted that residents and outsiders alike are naturally drawn to comparing Wichita Falls to other communities around North Texas that have made major investments in school facilities in recent years. According to these stakeholders, the fact that Wichita Falls’ facilities are viewed less favorably serves as a major barrier to attracting and retaining residents and businesses. There is also a strong connection between facility quality and student learning. According to the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy Analysis (CEEPA) at Penn State, “school facilities affect health, behavior, engagement, learning, and growth in achievement. Thus, researchers generally conclude that without adequate facilities and resources, it is extremely difficult to serve large numbers of children with complex needs.”
Stakeholders acknowledge that upgrading WFISD’s facilities will require significant investments. The consensus belief among these individuals is that the return on these investments will far outweigh the costs.
CONNECTIONS TO COMMUNITY GOALS
Attract and retain residents and businesses: Stakeholders said modern school facilities are crucial to the community’s ability to attract and retain talent.
Increase prosperity for all residents: A more competitive community would raise standards of living in the long run.
Enhance quality of life and quality of place: Modern school facilities would deliver a significant aesthetic enhancement to the community.
Promote inclusivity and equity: Upgrades would likely impact all students in WFISD.
Improve internal and external perceptions of Wichita Falls: Modern school facilities would increase community pride and help change the image of Wichita Falls among prospective residents.