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from public input: stakeholders widely believe that the district’s facilities – especially its high schools – are outdated.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.