SPECIAL REPORT: Major renovations planned for WFISD secondary ed. buildings

SPECIAL REPORT: Major renovations planned for WFISD secondary ed. buildings

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - On this special report: a look inside Rider High School where the plan is to make it a middle school by 2026.

“It was just constructed at a different time in a different manner,” explained Brady Woolsey, the district’s director of operations.

Superintendent Michael Kuhrt went into further detail and added, “the internal structure of that building, the electricity, the HVAC systems [and] the plumbing coming in and out of the building is still old.”

Built in the 1960s, Rider High School isn’t nearly as old as Wichita Falls High School.

For Superintendent Michael Kuhrt, newer doesn’t mean better.

“We still have 1960s buildings that our students are in every day,” he said, “our old facilities, they’re still functional. They still allow for a seven or eight period day. But they don’t provide the learning environment that I think students today need.”

Which is why they want to shut it down, renovate and reopen as a middle school.

“There are some things that we’d have to tweak to make it more middle school-ish,” explained Woolsey.

Officials said they want to start with the main hallways.

Right now, nearly 1,600 high school students either have to travel through narrow hallways, or head outside and around the building to get to their classes on time.

When looking ahead, Woolsey said, “that’s one of the features we think about when we think about the future of schools. Those corridors and those open areas are a big deal.”

Further down the hall, district officials said they need to make an entire wing ADA friendly.

Woolsey and Kuhrt also want to open up space in the cafeteria to allow for a more flexible lunch experience for students.

With funding limited to only move-in renovations for Rider, some of these major repairs may be placed on the back burner.

“It’s way too early to assume what we’ll do if Rider were to become a middle school,” said Woolsey, “what we’d do with the cafeteria and any of the other spaces.”

Despite the repairs needed, officials hope to continue using Rider, Hirschi and Barwise as middle schools until at least 2035 when another bond election could be called.

“We’ve proven through the years to be very strategic in the way we handle our schools,” Woolsey said.

Kuhrt added, “we’re not spending money where we don’t need to spend money.”

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