Weatherford Democrat

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September 20, 2012

WISD board discusses expansion of facilities

WEATHERFORD — Within the next few years, the campus facilities of the Weatherford Independent School District could undergo a major face-lift.

Board members and staff, along with VLK Architects, met Wednesday night during a work session to discuss the need for improvements at various campuses in the district, from flooring to water leaks, carpet replacement, bathroom renovations, mechanical structures, safety and classroom sizes.

Along with the cosmetic changes, WISD superintendent Jeffrey Hanks also brought up the idea of rotating students to different campuses, including moving ninth-graders to the high school campus, moving students from Tison and Hall Middle School to the Ninth Grade Center, using the space at Tison and Curtis Elementary to house fifth- and sixth-graders and keeping grades pre-K through fourth at the elementary campuses.

“I think Tison and Curtis are already pretty much set up for that age group, so it shouldn’t be a problem,” Hanks said. “Aside from cosmetic repairs, I don’t see any major modifications.”

The addition of ninth grade students at the high school would require expanding the campus, and initial plans laid out by VLK indicated adding a fourth gymnasium, cafeteria expansion, and an academic wing on the lower level.

The building, which was constructed in 2002, was originally built for 2,400 students. With the new facilities, it would have a new capacity of around 2,600 students, according to VLK.

The plans also included taking full advantage of the property owned by WISD behind the high school, constructing four practice fields, a new career and technology building, an ag facility off of BB Fielder Road and new baseball and softball fields.

The segregation would also help with student safety, board president Charlie Martinez said, as ninth-graders are currently bused from one campus to the other along Main Street.

“It would be very nice to have all of our ducks in the same pond,” WHS principal Lynn Pool said.

Hanks said the Ninth Grade Center is already equipped to handle grades 7 through 8, with the idea of putting seventh grade on the bottom level and eighth grade on the top.

“My first impression is that we’re maximizing the square footage that we have, and it’s impressive,” board vice president Paul Paschall said.

Hanks also addressed the idea to extend Sloan Street, which currently separates the Ninth Grade Center and the Raymond E. Curtis baseball field, through the bus barn and allowing it to meet back at Main Street, to help cut down on the traffic congestion after school.

“Adding a new street down the back and side to Main would allow the parents more availability for pick-up and it wouldn’t interfere with the buses,” he said.

According to the plans, the bus barn would be kept as a storage unit, and the remaining space would be turned into an area for track and field events. Raymond E. Curtis would be converted into two practice fields, and there was discussion on the possibility of moving the field house at Kangaroo Stadium to the east side of the field.

“If we did that, there would be more parking where the maintenance building and fieldhouse facilities are,” Hanks said.

A new transportation and maintenance facility would be constructed on the property between Charles and S. Bowie Streets.

With Hall Middle School potentially vacant, there are plans to convert it into a student service building, which would house child nutrition, special programs, adult education, a conference center, book warehouse and curriculum and instruction.

“In order to make it acceptable to house all of those offices, that might mean going in and completely gutting it,” Hanks said. “We’ve talked about the costing of gutting it, as opposed to tearing it down and rebuilding, and we haven’t gotten the numbers in for that yet but that might be something to look at.

“Those offices are all located at four different campuses right now.”

Martinez, along with Paschall and board member Kip Hooks, are serving as the facilities committee, which has been out observing facilities for the last few weeks. Martinez said the committee and board’s next step will to form a citizen’s committee and get input from the community before moving forward.

“This is just a starting point and we can work from there,” Hanks said. “We’re just putting dots on the board right now.”

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