On November 3, 2020, Wichita Falls voters approved Proposition A of WFISD’s $290 million bond, giving approval to build two new identical high schools. The bond will allow the District to replace high schools that are between 60 and 100 years old.
The two new high schools are projected to open in Fall 2024. One school, temporarily referred to as the East High School, will be located on 180 acres in southwest Wichita Falls’ Legacy Park at Windthorst Road and Henry S. Grace Freeway, a site north of the Career Education Center, on land that cost $4.2 million. The second identical school, temporarily referred to as the West High School, is slated for the 104 acres in southwest Wichita Falls at 6422 Seymour Highway. The land cost $1.9 million.
These two new schools will replace the current three high schools that are currently in use: Rider, Wichita Falls and Hirschi. Wichita Falls High School will be retired, and Rider High School and Hirschi High School will transition to middle schools.
Students who were 8th graders in the 2020-2021 school year will be the first graduating class from the two new high schools.
The two facilities will be stand-outs in the state for their adaptability since they have been designed with an emphasis on “future thinking” not just “forward thinking.” It’s expected that the schools will be in use for the next century and will have to adapt to unknown challenges and changes in education, so versatility is a hallmark of the layout and design of both buildings. The new buildings will feature large open spaces that can be reconfigured, glass classroom walls that open into carpeted study spaces, and grand swathes of flexible spaces that can be divided up again and again, depending on a teacher’s need.
Architects have even designed an auditorium space that is so multi-functional that it may become a standard for public education, according to Tom Lueck, Huckabee chief operations officer who is advising the District. The auditorium space features a full stage with a reconfigurable seating area. The seating space can be turned into six classrooms or into seating for 500 to hold an audience for a stage production or concert.
When the area is in classroom mode, it can be used by athletics for team meetings, health and nutrition instruction or lectures. Acoustics will be controlled digitally and designed by an acoustician.
The two new high schools building project will also be the biggest construction project that Wichita Falls has seen to date, according to Mr. Lueck. It’s twice the size of the city’s largest project, which was the building of the Multi-Purpose Events Center’s three buildings. It’s three times the size of the new Wichita County Law Enforcement Center project and six times the size of WFISD’s most recent building project, the Career Education Center.