WFISD talks about future of school buildings and maintenance needs

WFISD breaks down maintenance needs

WICHITA FALLS, TX (TNN) - Adding air conditioning and updating old classrooms to keep up with changing times are just a couple of the facility and maintenance upgrades multiple Wichita Falls ISD schools have had to undergo.

Director of Maintenance Chris Fain and Executive Director of Operations Brady Woolsey said there are at least 5 schools that are almost 100 years old.

Classrooms have been added on to the existing structures of some of WFISD’s oldest school buildings. The district has also had to come up with other ways to deal with the rising number of students over the years.

“The growth of the school has needs and so we have to bring in portable buildings to some of our campuses,” Fain stated.

Fain also said his staff of maintenance workers are constantly tending to an average of 100 work orders a week.

There is always something to be fixed, especially in aging buildings that could have anything from cracks in the tiles or are in need of major roofing and pipeline repairs. This past year maintenance costs for the district reached about a million dollars.

Compared to newer buildings in the school district, some of WFISD’s older classrooms are smaller, around 600 square feet. “A newer building like Scotland Park or Southern Hills – most of those classrooms are 800 or close to 1000,” Fain said.

Those with the district are aiming to make sure all facilities meet the same standards, but to do that for just one school it would take a lot of money.

For example for Crockett elementary it would costs $6 million over the next 10 years according to a facilities study the district conducted this year.

The wear and tear of WFISD’s aging schools is not lost on its students.

Just a few months ago in November, high school students spoke in front of the school board about their concerns they have regarding the buildings they attend school in. “I've spent 11-percent of my life in WFISD facilities, facilities that are falling apart, that have been left in neglect and disrepair for years,” said one Rider High student.

There has been ongoing discussion from the board and within the Wichita Falls community about what to do to address the issues in WFISD’s facilities.

Woolsey said the big question is whether to build – an option that’s been voiced by students and board members – or continue with the way things are. “You know you kind of have to weigh it out. Do you want to spend this amount of money to bring the school up to speed and it’s still an old school, or are you interested in moving forward with building a new school providing a more optimal learning environment? That’s the challenge.”

WFISD’s Superintendent Michael Kuhrt has said that in order for the district to fix some of their facility problems, they will need more funds, So the superintendent said citizens could be seeing a November bond this year.

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