— By SALLY SEXTON
Looking to add better campus security and manage growth by adding a new wing to the high school and reconfiguring campuses, Weatherford ISD board members Friday unanimously approved calling for a May 11 bond election.
If passed, the $107,320,000 bond will go toward improving security, capital improvements, expanding technology and new construction projects. All of the proposed capital improvements are included under one proposition – meaning all the items will succeed or fail.
“This is an exciting time for the kids, for the community, for everyone involved with Weatherford ISD,” WISD superintendent Jeffrey Hanks said. “This was also a courageous thing for the board to do.”
Over the last several months, the district sought input from various community members, who formed the Citizens Facility Committee, to assess the needs of the district.
After giving feedback and different alternatives to address the concerns, several scenarios were presented to the board.
With the proposed bond, several security measures, including more secure entrance ways, exterior lighting, security cameras and fencing, would be constructed on the district’s 11 campuses.
To accommodate student population growth, the bond would allow for grade levels to be distributed among the campuses differently — with ninth through 12th grades at the high school, grades seven and eight at one middle school, grades 5 and 6 at Hall and Tison and students from grades pre-K through four at Austin, Wright, Curtis, Ikard, Crockett, Martin and Seguin elementaries.
“It is proposed that the elementary campuses would become pre-K to fourth-grade campuses, moving grades five and six to two intermediate campuses, having a common middle school for all seventh and eighth graders and a comprehensive high school for grades nine to 12,” Hanks said. “This alignment should accommodate the district’s projected growth and student population for at least the next decade.”
Currently, almost half of the district’s elementary schools are over 100 percent capacity. In order to provide adequate room for incoming ninth-graders at the high school, the bond would cover the cost of adding on a new wing to the campus on Bethel Road.
The proposed bond also addresses technology updates and would purchase equipment to bring classrooms up to date, including digital projection units, teacher workstations and tablets and wireless Internet.
Updates to athletic facilities, as well as new competition and practice baseball and softball fields, would also be covered.
According to estimates received by the board, the bond, if passed, would cost the taxpayer $131.75 annually, or $10.98 per month, based on a $100,000 property value.
“The district and the community have grown significantly since the last bond election,” Hanks said, referring to a bond proposal in 1999. “This proposed bond would address many issues in the four critical areas.”
Early voting begins April 29.