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WFISD to scale back plans for new high schools

Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 9:04 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 10, 2021 at 9:10 PM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - The Wichita Falls Independent School District announced Tuesday that to see the two new high schools come to fruition, cuts would have to be made in light of supply chain issues and inflation.

“Just to be able to build the building that voters approved, we feel we have to scale back some of those things,” said Superintendent Michael Kuhrt.

“You’re going to be able to find some things that aren’t complete or aren’t what you thought they would be, but for the most part you’re still going to see nice schools, your kids are still going to go to nice schools that have everything they need,” said Kuhrt.

Kuhrt said the $290 million bond to build the schools ran into problems when inflation rose and supply chain issues swept the country.

“We couldn’t have predicted this,” said Kuhrt. “Whenever we were planning this, we had a five percent contingency inflationary cost in the project.”

Kuhrt said the school district is using what is called a construction manager risk delivery method. With this method, a contractor worked with the architect to find solutions to costs for each thing needed to build the school. The school board then went to seek out contract bids for each thing needed; however, when they received the bids, they were much higher than expected. 18% over budget to be exact.

“This has never happened before,” said Kuhrt. “COVID has never happened before and this type of escalation has never happened before.”

WFISD officials will now try to scale back by lowering the ceiling in certain parts of the building, putting the athletic fields in without bleachers, leaving certain classrooms or the auditorium as a shell to be finished later.

“The bottom line is, we’re still going to have two new high schools in 2024 and they’re going to be better than anything we have and people are still going to be excited about them, but they’re not going to be as nice originally as what they were going to be,” said Kuhrt.

The WFISD board will meet again on Monday to finalize their approach, which may also include using $20 million from the district’s fund balance.

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