Panel hears plan to revamp WFISD

Proposal envisions 1 new, citywide high school

Ann Work
CFAT members met in small groups Tuesday to begin study and discussion of specialized topics relating to school bond options.

CFAT members met in small groups Tuesday to begin study and discussion of specialized topics relating to school bond options.

A group of Wichita Falls residents who called themselves the Concerned Citizens for Wichita Falls put a new and radically different bond plan before the Community Facilities Action Team on Tuesday and asked them to consider it.

The plan, presented by Realtor Katherine McGregor, would transform Kirby Junior High into a professional career and technology center because of its modular, open building style and surrounding land.

Realtor Katherine McGregor answers a question about a new comprehensive plan presented Tuesday to CFAT members.

Realtor Katherine McGregor answers a question about a new comprehensive plan presented Tuesday to CFAT members.

The plan also turns each high school into a junior high school, creating Hirschi Junior High, Wichita Falls Junior High and Rider Junior High — each retaining its colors, mascots and traditions.

Such a move would upgrade the district’s junior high facilities dramatically, she said.

The plan also recommends building one citywide high school for the 2,700 students in grades 10, 11 and 12 and putting it in one of several visible locations along Kell Boulevard.

The group proposed putting the district’s 1,000 ninth-graders in a separate ninth-grade center, perhaps at Barwise.

“All students and all families would participate in the change,” she told the CFAT group. “All would benefit with the excitement.”

McGregor represented a group that included Larry Scott, Kenny Bryant, Tommy and Becky Isabel, Mike Bomar and Kenny Haney.

Former WFISD administrators who also supported the plan included Randy Byers, Herby Carr, Gary Rogers and Nat Lunn, according to a handout.

The group has been striving to create a plan that would provide academic excellence for every child and be accountable to the taxpayer for every penny spent, McGregor said.

The group envisions a professional career and technology school at the center of its plan that would be so dynamic that it could provide training and industry certifications in up to 14 careers, with new specialties such as hot rod/motorcycle mechanics, a fire and police academy, culinary, commercial truck driving and architecture.

Wichita Falls needs a center where the city’s vast majority of noncollege-bound kids can earn industry certifications “so they can graduate on Friday and go to work Monday morning in Wichita Falls,” Larry Scott said.

“And stay here and buy a house,” Becky Isabel said.

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McGregor said the group recommended building one new citywide high school, but a school that serves 2,800 students is not a super school like the 6,000-student super schools in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, she said.

“We’re not a super school town,” she said.

Former school administrators who advised the group told them that putting all students in one facility guaranteed that each child would have the same opportunities, the same good teachers, the same programs.

“It is very hard to be divided and equal,” McGregor said.

The group estimated that the one citywide high school, which they dubbed Wichita Falls Memorial High School, could cost about $80 million.

She outlined the pros and cons of several locations for it, but said the group felt putting the new high school at the center of town near Kell would be “a very clear indicator to people moving to Wichita Falls that we have put our money where our kids are.”

She drives along Kell now and envisions a handsome, large high school near Lowe’s, she said.

McNiel could be repurposed for elementary consolidations for the West Side of town; Harrell would be relocated to Hirschi Junior High, accessible through a separate entrance.

McGregor said the team envisions creating a coalition of banks, Realtors and others to help the city transition to the plan, since it would require buying land that is occupied, a project that was accomplished when the city built the Multi-Purpose Events Center.

“We have not talked to anybody who has said, ‘That’s a horrible idea,’” McGregor said. “Most people feel the time is now.”

Taxpayers want to see their money well-spent, said plan supporter Becky Isabel. “I think it would give this town a shot in the arm that it desperately needs.”

One CFAT member said they’d been told Wichita Falls High School was “old and wore out.”

McGregor said she disagreed that the buildings were too old to be used. “Princeton, Yale and Harvard all have old buildings,” McGregor said. “Maybe you don’t pour $50 million into it. A younger population puts less burden on a building.”

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Comments » 44

wofum1947 writes:

WOW!!!! Now this what I'm talkin' about!!

A group of concerned, knowledgeable members of the community came up with I think is winner completely independent of the school administration and board and look at the novel and what I think is a completely workable solution to our facilities problem. All at a lower cost to the citizens that anything we have heard from the administration, board or CFAT. All without doing any tours or out of town trips to look at facilities in places where there is no comparison to WF. They are all parents of students or former students of the WFISD and all have been involved with their children's education and have, I think, the best interests of the students of the WFISD foremost in their minds.

It accomplishes everything that needs to be accomplished including a Vo-Tech school with even more offerings than anything that has been proposed yet

I know the members of the group and the former administrators who supported their idea. The members of the group have always supported the students of the WFISD, they come from all different attendance zones, yet they came up with this plan that does not "short" any of hem. Theirs is a lesson in cooperation that we all could learn from. The former administrators are all men I have worked for and with and have the greatest respect for in their talents and students-first way of looking at things.

This is a plan that bears more investigation in my opinion. It does not favor one area of the city over another and give our student the best we can offer and afford.

This is a plan that I would vote for with not a seconds hesitation.

Violet writes:

I would vote for this, too.

XKSBoy writes:

Well thought out plan

wofum1947 writes:

Some idea of the way the plan was met with last night my be gained from the expressions on the faces of those seated at the table in the foreground of the photo.

Looks like the CFAT got "scooped". For that reason alone it probably will never go any further.

All of us who like this plan need to contact those on the CFAT we know and let them know.

UncleSi writes:

This is a brilliant plan. I would vote for this. I'm afraid, though, that it will not make it beyond the board. This proposal hinders their extracirricular trips to other cities. It also would provide an end to the constant bond issues. IMO, the bond issues as of late seem like the board is whining about this, that or the other and I'm tired of hearing about it. Great job guys! I hope it goes through!!

1strlcuckoo22 writes:

This dog won't hunt as my folks would say. What they are taling about seems to be strange, displace people from there homes/businesses when there is barren land available, build where no one going through town would see the new school, and continue to pour monies into buildings that need to be razed.

1strlcuckoo22 writes:

Have more thoughts but the site won't stay up.

1strlcuckoo22 writes:

What is wrong with land out by 287/281/hatton Rd. ? There a school would be a show place to travelers/visitors? Doesn't a realtor know the land owner?
Kirby doesn't have the land for a CATE center.

1strlcuckoo22 writes:

Think, why must every inhancement to this town be to the southwest? Why is the north part of town forsaken? Why these people don't even like the base until it is talked about closing(try to be shown a house by the base!).

1strlcuckoo22 writes:

Why pay 142k and then throw their recommendations away? Do we do this because the 142k was paid to persons who do not know what they are doing? How many from this group reside in any of the the northern sections of town?

1strlcuckoo22 writes:

I keep waiting for someone to come to my section of town(by the base) to ask our opinion and input or do we have a representative who speaks for us/ (Not for me).

outhousepoet writes:

A plan

arrived upon by locals that would benefit our local education system and unite the entire city and possibly bring about a new sense of pride

and no grass is greener moanings

golly Wally, what a concept

Brilliant

corrinehamre#258973 writes:

Instead of by Lowe's, tear down, clean up and build it where Attebury Grain elevators are.

wow writes:

I think this a definite step in the right location...well done

Justanotherguy writes:

I, too am from the north section of town. I was a definite "no" to the expensive options I have been hearing. This is like a breath of fresh air. If this isn't seriously looked at as an option, I believe every board member should be voted out. I believe beneath the radar, the most important project for this city is Vo-Tec. We can spend a fortune trying to impress other cities, but we are not Trophy Club and HEB. Our students desperately need the training that Vo-Tec would bring. Bravo to this group of concerned and informed citizens. How could so many men and women with such insight fail to make the cut on the CFAT? It speaks poorly of those at WFISD who are pushing plans far more expensive.

wofum1947 writes:

This plan would also save on personnel costs on the high end. Not paying THREE high school principals, just TWO(I counted the ninth grade center); not paying THREE head football, basketball, and other head coaches, just ONE. But, because of petty territorial bickering it may be doomed to failure.

Wichita_Willie writes:

in response to corrinehamre#258973:

Instead of by Lowe's, tear down, clean up and build it where Attebury Grain elevators are.

Once again here is the "tear down Attebury" plan. Well here is why it won't work.

1. Attebury is an open business in Wichita Falls. They store wheat here and ship it out by rail. Its generating well needed property tax and employes people who live here in WF.

2. Attebury is located directly next door to the Taylor Foundry. Have you ever driven by the Taylor Foundry? Most of the time there is a terrible smell. There have been all kinds of metals dumped on the ground there for decades. Is this a location that you actually want our kids to be next door to?

3. Like the Attebury Elevator, Taylor Foundry employees people from here in WF, and they generate property tax.

4. WF has had its share of businesses closing up and leaving town, like Certainteed. So what are you proposing? Shutting down two more businesses here, laying off even more workers, putting even more of the tax burden on the property owners to make up the difference?

Based on the current economic situation here in WF, I can think of nothing more stupid or ridiculous than someone suggesting to close down another business so that we can build a school next door to a foundry.

1strlcuckoo22 writes:

Why tear down anything to build when there is vacant land?
justanotherguy, there has ALWAYS been plans for improved CATE(Vo-tech) training facilities. I, as do many, feel that adding on to Hirschi is a better alternative then trying to configure Kirby for the task. Plus it would be best if the students did not waste time traveling between schools but took their academic classes at Hirschi as well as their CATE classes

JimD writes:

Workable Plan - A Great start - As discussed in earlier post "Location and Name" need to be given some more serious consideration.

I Like the idea of concerned citizens of the City instead of hand picked individuals from the School Board and Administrators of the School District to endorse their original plan.

Finally a plan I can back and vote on.

outhousepoet writes:

The quality and support of most of today's comments should send a message to the WFISD Board.

We are capable of supportive comments.....

Give us reason, we will applaud.

wofum1947 writes:

poet: Your two posts say it all in my opinion to the administration, board and CFAT.

I have talked with several of the people on the CCWF and there is much more to their plan than space allowed to be printed.

If you know someone in the group, call them and ask them to tell you about it in full.

If you like the plan presented last night, talk it up to others.

1strlcuckoo22 writes:

in response to wofum1947:

This plan would also save on personnel costs on the high end. Not paying THREE high school principals, just TWO(I counted the ninth grade center); not paying THREE head football, basketball, and other head coaches, just ONE. But, because of petty territorial bickering it may be doomed to failure.

This would require at the least nine administrators, granted only two would be titled Principal. Each campus would need an athletic director(or equivalent), the high school head coaches would want double their staff at least(more for football due to the size of the roster of probably over 100 for the high school), and the 9th grades would need an equivalent staffing. I think salaries would also increase well beyond what is being paid now(6A status)

1strlcuckoo22 writes:

wofum seems on this issue you and I are on opposite sides of the fence....must be a first.

wofum1947 writes:

in response to 1strlcuckoo22:

wofum seems on this issue you and I are on opposite sides of the fence....must be a first.

We most probably are. Instead of paying THREE head coaches/UIL Athletic coordinators $80k per year, pay ONE $120k per year. All three high schools now have athletic coordinators, usually the head football coach, and academic coordinators, consolidation to one high school would only require one each. Since they would not be coordinating three different teams, only one, the work load wold remain the same. Ninth grade does not need separate coordinators, that can be taken care of by those at the high school. Even with increased numbers of say football, there would be no need to maintain all the current football staffs from the three high schools, unless we wanted to offer some other sports like archery, ice hockey, lacrosse, and so on.

Instead of sending 15 buses to the DFW/Denton area or the schools where HHS participates, we would be sending four or five for events.

The same savings will result from the other UIL athletic events - golf, softball, basketball, track and field, and so on.

The old economic law of Economies to Scale applies to this situation.

1strlcuckoo22 writes:

You talk of what is needed I speak of what they will ask for and more then likely get. Why does a football team at the high school level(or any level) need eleven(or more coaches)? They don't but many have just about that many.
My numbers came after discussing this with others where I work.
The non agreement I wrote of is the entire plan that these concerned citizens came up with. I never heard a city wide call out for concerned citizens after the initial committee was formed, so I feel these are a chosen few who got themselves together wanting it their way, and only Sinatra got that. Why were they not on the CFAT?

Wichita_Willie writes:

I hope that everyone understands that all this indecision and constant changing of ideas on what to do with the schools is only going to make it harder to pass any bond, regardless of who's idea it was. The taxpayers of the WFISD is already looking at the ISD as being someone who doesn't ever take care of what we already have. Constantly changing the game plan is hardly going to win any votes.

All of these "discussions" need to be worked out before rushing anything to the ballot.

In addition, the city's current water situation almost makes it a moot point to start changing schools/building new ones anyway. We really don't need to be coming up with Plan A , Plan B, Plan C, etc. if we can't solve our water needs because if the current weather trends don't correct their self fast, we may well be seeing a mass exodus and drop in enrollment anyway.

Moliere writes:

Did anyone ever think this guy that ain't from around here was gonna close Old High? Or Zundy? Forty years ago, they were called the Nifty Fifty when they decided one of the Who's Who of American Educators, Don Waldrip, needed to be run out of town in a U-haul rental. They wrote textbooks around his work with the Cincinnati, Ohio ISD. Population growth, here, over the last Fifty Years, is ZERO, in Wichita Falls, Taxes.

There has to be a reason.

JimD writes:

WW - Should we stop eating, working, going to school, and building houses waiting on the water situation to improve?

That is the reason we are in this position we are in now - waiting for the situation to improve before we try any new ideas in this community.

Remember we refused to progress this City for about 20 years waiting on the population to go above 99,000.

Now that we are past 100,000 in population we have grown stagnant again due to career politician and lack of new Ideas.

It's been way past time we got more than one Horse in this here town..

Trust me fellow the Rains will come.

JimD

rud2u writes:

what are you going to call the one high school football team?coyotes ,raiders something new people will fight over that more than the cost or location

1strlcuckoo22 writes:

WW, as I have said before without water there will be no population, no industry, no need for schools. Yes rain will come but will it come soon enough in quantities enough to erase what is happening now and has in the past. I've heard some predictions that this area is headed to be desert like the lands to our west.

JimD writes:

In response to cuckoo 22

And Yet Midland and Odessa still survive - and since I have been there last month thriving better than WF based on their newly discovered shale basin.

Moliere writes:

in response to rud2u:

what are you going to call the one high school football team?coyotes ,raiders something new people will fight over that more than the cost or location

Vermin?

1strlcuckoo22 writes:

in response to JimD:

In response to cuckoo 22

And Yet Midland and Odessa still survive - and since I have been there last month thriving better than WF based on their newly discovered shale basin.

It is funny that none of the recently drilled wells have produced potable water and I doubt if there is a large water holding below us. Why must people always try to compare here with places that are thriving and seem to function with common sense?

Wichita_Willie writes:

Jim, there is a big difference between what is going on here, and out at Midland-Odessa. They have lots of ground water, we don't. More importantly they have lots of jobs and tax revenue because of the oil boom. We don't.

Until we get a grasp on the water situation I simply don't see the need to change everything. Yes, we might be behind the times but without water everything else is useless. We already have schools but we are about to run out of water.

JimD writes:

WW - I don't see the Community waiting for the optimum time to be productive.

Surely, leaders of this Community can focus on more than one thing at a time.

Elected Officials and Community Leaders need to get away from "Management by Crisis" and be proactive.

WW - The Last High School built in Wichita Falls was in the early 70's - Where is the School District 20, 30 year Master Plan for replacing or retrofitting existing facilities?

wofum1947 writes:

JimD: If memory serves me correctly, Hirschi was the last high school built in WF. It was completed, opened its doors and had students as a Junior/Senior High School for school year 1962-1963. Rider was already in full operation at that time. How do I know the date? Because I was one of the first students in the HHS building, before opening day of classes, attended school there three years and graduated from HHS in 1965.

Not bad, just ten years or so off.

1strlcuckoo22 writes:

in response to wofum1947:

JimD: If memory serves me correctly, Hirschi was the last high school built in WF. It was completed, opened its doors and had students as a Junior/Senior High School for school year 1962-1963. Rider was already in full operation at that time. How do I know the date? Because I was one of the first students in the HHS building, before opening day of classes, attended school there three years and graduated from HHS in 1965.

Not bad, just ten years or so off.

You are correct!

Wichita_Willie writes:

Hirschi was constructed as both a junior high (west wing) and a high school (east wing) in the early 1960's. The two shared the gym, auditorium, locker rooms, offices, library, cafeteria, tennis courts, track, etc. Oddly the high school automotive shop was located on the junior high side of the campus. The high school had dedicated classrooms for choir, band and shop. The junior high had all three of these classes housed in three small wooden buildings that the WFISD had purchased from SAFB. They were cold in the winter and poorly insulated.

Hirschi Junior High was the Hounds and their colors were orange and white. After Northwest Junior High was constructed in 1973 Hirschi Junior High ceased to exist and the hounds became the mascot at Northwest, and again at Kirby when Northwest changed its name. The 1973-74 school year was the first time that students from City View were allowed to attend high school outside of WFHS and that was what allowed Hirschi's enrollment to increase to the point that they moved up to class 4A along with Rider and WFHS. This didn't last long because of the WFISD not willing to work out a deal with City View. City View eventually built their own high school and Hirschi went on a downward spiral enrollment wise which allowed them to drop back down to 3A.

If I recall correctly Hirschi was 2A when it first opened its doors.

wofum1947 writes:

WW: You are correct in that HHS was in the 2A enrollment numbers when it initially opened for school year 1962-1963. The athletic teams did not compete in the 2A UIL district contests, they picked up games as they could find them. The academic teams did compete in the 2A UIL district contests that very first year. Then the second year, 1963-64, HHS went up to 3A and all teams, athletic and academic, competed in 3A UIL district contests.

JimD writes:

So the last High School built for the City of Wichita Falls is 50 years old or older.

If we had a master plan for building new schools and retiring, retrofitting and replacing older facilities emotions would not run so high on closing facilities and building new ones.

It is not like we built these current schools to last forever.

It is due time for a New High School in the City and the Oldest in the District should be closed and a new one built.

Wichita_Willie writes:

So using your ideology then we should tear down UT because the buildings are over 50 years old. While we are at it let's tear down the state capitol. In Washington DC let's tear down the White House, the Capitol, even the Lincoln Memorial as well. Let's see almost every building in downtown WF is over 50 years old. The Kemp Center, the Women's Forum, Municipal Auditorium. Most of MSU would qualify as well.

Haven't we learned anything here in WF about being a throw away society? We once had a thriving downtown, that is until others like yourself thought how cool it would be to rid our downtown of all these "old" buildings. In six months time we lost the original fire station, the original PD and the old train station. Nevermind that it's also our history, our heritage, our childhood that we destroy every time we simply tear down something because its old.

Sikes Senter is also fast approaching 50 years. What then? I sure don't see another developer coming into WF to build us a new one.

wofum1947 writes:

WW: Don't forget the WFISD Administration building, once Reagan Jr. High, and the stadium complex.

JIMD: What exactly is your timeline for demolition and rebuilding of school buildings? Ten, fifteen, twenty years? How long?

Our current buildings have been "retrofitted" in the past, though the work has not always been accomplished to the standards they should have been. Thus, part of the problem, you don't always get the highest quality work from the lowest bidder.

The "oldest" high school building in the city, WFHS, is in all probability the strongest and sturdiest of the three high school buildings. I am talking about the original, or core, building, not the additions. Back when it was built things were built to last, not become outdated. Just like my home, it was built in 1920 and is still sturdier than many of the new homes being built today. Full 2X6 floor joists, interior and exterior studs, ceiling joists and rafters all on 16 inch centers. The interior and exterior walls and decking are 1X6 tongue-in-groove as are the subfloors. With the PROPER maintenance it is still tight, warm and dry.

If we did build ONE new high school, it would have the effect of doing away with the emotions associated with the buildings we now have. And, maybe the "rivalry" over a football game - a football game, for goodness sakes, which has grown unhealthy in most instances over the years would be done away with.

1strlcuckoo22 writes:

in response to wofum1947:

WW: Don't forget the WFISD Administration building, once Reagan Jr. High, and the stadium complex.

JIMD: What exactly is your timeline for demolition and rebuilding of school buildings? Ten, fifteen, twenty years? How long?

Our current buildings have been "retrofitted" in the past, though the work has not always been accomplished to the standards they should have been. Thus, part of the problem, you don't always get the highest quality work from the lowest bidder.

The "oldest" high school building in the city, WFHS, is in all probability the strongest and sturdiest of the three high school buildings. I am talking about the original, or core, building, not the additions. Back when it was built things were built to last, not become outdated. Just like my home, it was built in 1920 and is still sturdier than many of the new homes being built today. Full 2X6 floor joists, interior and exterior studs, ceiling joists and rafters all on 16 inch centers. The interior and exterior walls and decking are 1X6 tongue-in-groove as are the subfloors. With the PROPER maintenance it is still tight, warm and dry.

If we did build ONE new high school, it would have the effect of doing away with the emotions associated with the buildings we now have. And, maybe the "rivalry" over a football game - a football game, for goodness sakes, which has grown unhealthy in most instances over the years would be done away with.

I would agree that "Old High" was built to last but would also state that it has not been maintained to last and is in grave disrepair.

JimD writes:

WW - There is a time and point to retire a building especially since upgrading would require more money than it is to build a new one.

I can understand your emotional tie to WFHS but unless we are all ready to commit to reinvest in the building it is time to retire the old girl.

Perhaps make it a Historical Museum for school in Wichita Falls.

I like you seen this Community throw away and disfigure many building in this City it bring tears to my eyes everything I past the Court house.

Unfortunately Down Town is gone and will never return. The money spent down there should always raised questioned as to why without a major anchor for an attraction.

I hope when the time comes Concerned Citizens will someday get together a present a plan for the down town area like they did for the Schools this spending money down there without a plan of direction is aggravating at the least.

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