The Wichita Falls Independent School District (WFISD) is the largest school district of the 38 public school districts located in North Texas. It serves the community of Wichita Falls.
WFISD enrolled 13,401 students in August 2020. WFISD is accredited by the Texas Education Agency and is the largest school district operating in Region 9.
The District operates three early childhood campuses, 16 elementary campuses, three middle school campuses, three high schools and two alternative campuses. The District also operates the Career Education Center, a state-of-the-art facility that opened in 2017. Here, students are trained in one of 26 career pathways. Each provides students with a multitude of post-graduation opportunities.
WFISD’s 2019 graduation rate is an impressive 98.7 percent, one of the top graduation rates in the country. The District operates many credit recovery, summer school, truancy and remedial programs to find and retain students and help them earn their diplomas or GEDs.
WFISD Superintendent Mike Kuhrt was voted the Texas K-12 CTO Council Tech Savvy Superintendent of the Year.
WFISD’s Two New High Schools, Opening Fall 2024
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.
- Texas Education Agency bestowed its new “Purple Star Award” on Sheppard Elementary, honoring the school for its connections with Sheppard Air Force Base. The designation was created by the 86th Texas Legislature.
- Sheppard Elementary and West Foundation each received $500,000 Department of Defense Education Activity Grants designed to build student proficiency in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) activities. Since 2015, Sheppard Elementary has been awarded $1.5 million in DoDEA grants.
- Four WFISD elementary campuses – Lamar, Burgess, Haynes and Zundy – were recognized in 2021 as Capturing Kids’ Hearts National Showcase Schools by the Flippen Group. Lamar Elementary earned the title for the third consecutive year. Designations must be re-earned every year.
- McNiel Middle School teacher Melanie Wright received the “Teacher of the Year” award from the Major Francis Grice Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in January 2021. She is known for delivering lessons dressed as historical figures. As a recipient of this award, she will be forever commemorated in the Smithsonian Museum.
- Rider High School basketball coach Cliff McGuire surpassed Garland “Bubba” Bailey’s win-loss record of 176-104 earned from 1965-1974 with his 177-73 record set recently with Rider’s 49-48 win over Lubbock Monterey. That makes Coach McGuire the head coach with the most wins in Rider program history. He has a 70.8 winning percentage – also Rider’s best. He also gave the program its only regional tournament appearances in 2015-2016 and 2019-2020.
- Waterford UPSTART pre-K online program continues into its fourth year for families who need an at-home pre-K option. According to kindergarten readiness data on WFISD students, UPSTART participants are scoring as “Kindergarten Advanced” in tests given around Halloween of their kindergarten year.
- WFISD was the first district in Texas to implement the Waterford UPSTART Program for Early Learning.
- WFISD teachers conducted 2,735 Google Meets on the first day of the 2020-2021 school year.
- WFISD has been in session (face-to-face and virtually) throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Booker T. Washington Principal Angela Rooney was named TEPSAN Principal of the Year 2021 for Region 9 by the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association.
- Franklin Elementary Assistant Principal Ashley Murdock was named TEPSAN Assistant Principal of the Year 2021 for Region 9 by the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association.
- Kirby Middle School Principal Shannon Cunningham was named the Texas Middle School Principal of the Year by the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals. She has served Kirby since 2018.
- Students in the Career Education Center’s Automotive and Collision classes are part of one of 10 high school auto shop programs in the nation that are building a one-of-a-kind customized dream Jeep as part of the SEMA High School Vehicle Build Program. The competition began January 2020. This is the third year that CEC students have customized a vehicle as part of this program.
- An Employee Giving Campaign raised $5,178 in one-time and monthly donations to the WFISD Foundation.
- WFISD received the “Best Communities for Music Educators” Designation in 2018 and 2019.
- Chartwells K12 recognized WFISD’s Chef Carrie Richardson as one of five chefs chosen from a pool of chefs nationwide honored as “Hero Behind the Food” for coordinating the distribution of 600,000 emergency meals in grab & go style during the pandemic.
- Chartwells, WFISD’s food service provider under the direction of Farai Sithole, earned national distinction for its food service expertise when it won the 2019 Be-A-Star National Account of the Year in September 2019.
- One Hirschi student, Lauren Nichols, won acceptance into the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS), an exclusive program at the University of North Texas. It is the nation’s first early college entrance residential program for gifted high school students. She would have been a junior at Hirschi during the 2020-2021 school year.
- Throughout the 2020-2021 school year, WFISD was able to serve meals at no charge with a waiver issued to WFISD by the USDA and the Texas Department of Agriculture.
- After the first six weeks of school, 70 percent of secondary students requested switch applications to return to face-to-face instruction.
- WFISD Finances earned the District a ‘Superior’ ranking in the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST).
- Rider High School percussion instructor Geoffrey Martin created a free app, Fingering Chart by Tremolo, to help young musicians.
- Students constructed the second house on the back lot of the Career Education Center. The 2-bedroom, 1-bath home features energy efficient low-e windows, a maintenance-free exterior, and a full kitchen and laundry room.
- WFISD’s Truancy and Attendance Director Verna Honeycutt uses an advanced new system, the RaaWee K-12 Truancy and Dropout Prevention System, to track absentees. Its routines and procedures were so thorough that she tracked down 400 no-shows this year.
- Booker T. Washington Elementary is home to the fastest girl in America for her age. In March 2021, fifth-grader Khloe Washington received gold medals in the 200-meter, 400-meter and long jump for 11 and 12-year-olds at the AAU Track and Field Indoor National Championship. Her sister, Kennedy McCarter, received a gold medal in the long jump, marking her as the best performer in the country in that event for 9 and 10-year-olds.
- The Wichita Falls High School 1949 football team made the elite list of The Top 100 Texas Football teams of the past 100 years. The UIL and Dave Campbell’s Texas Football teamed up to honor the state’s best. The Coyotes won six state championships between 1941 and 1969.
- Chartwells K12, WFISD’s food service provider, received a $75,000 “No Kid Hungry” grant to help fight childhood hunger through the PowerPak program. The program is done in collaboration with the Wichita Falls Area Food Bank, providing food for children on weekends.
- Four of WFISD’s bilingual teachers were voted Teacher of the Year at their elementary campuses: Brook Village’s Mayra Lopez, Zundy’s Ana Aguilar, Scotland Park’s Alma Allen and Lamar’s Claudia Lopez.
- Talented and Gifted fifth-grade students used a program called Bloxels to build their own video games with a social-emotional learning theme that were then uploaded to the Bloxels Arcade and played by students all over the world. Some students’ games have had thousands of plays.
- Hirschi High School alum Reggie Greer now serves as a policy director for the Biden/Harris administration in Washington, D.C.
- Wichita Falls High School art student Briana Brown was the only WFISD artist with a piece of work accepted into the 2021 Youth Art Month Texas State Capitol Art Exhibit and displayed in the State Capitol through the Texas Art Education Association’s Youth Art Month. She is a student of WFHS art teacher Carol Rose.
- WFISD capitalized on the best financial time in history to sell its bonds to finance its two new high schools. Interest rates are so slow that the District is expected to lock in a low interest rate in the range of 3 to 3.5 percent for 30 years to take full advantage of the cheap money environment.
- Fain Elementary fifth-graders use their research and presentation skills to participate in the collegiate EURECA research program held annually at Midwestern State University.
- 125 teachers at six WFISD schools received $500 payouts in December 2020 for serving high economically disadvantaged students. Qualifying teachers are from Kirby Middle School and Booker T. Washington, Zundy, Scotland Park, Burgess and Lamar elementary schools.
- The Zundy Elementary kindergarten bilingual team was named to the “Imagine Espanol” Hall of Fame. Maritza Pacheco and Jessica Rivers, Zundy’s kindergarten bilingual team, used the Imagine Learning Espanol program so successfully that Zundy became one of 10 schools nationwide named to its 2020 Hall of Fame.
- The Rider High School E-Sports team is ranked No. 1 in the state out of 170 teams. The Raiders won the state semi-final best-of-7 match in dramatic fashion. Rider’s Rocket League team “Raiders” finished the regular season with a 24-2 game record. Rider is ranked No. 1 in the state out of 170 teams. Sponsor is Rider teacher Chris Preston.
- The Optimist Club donated playground equipment for every WFISD elementary classroom – 442 classes in all. The $8,600 gift included every pre-K and Head Start class.
- WFISD’s Parents as Teachers program was the sixth program in the state to be named a Blue Ribbon Affiliate for its effectiveness in helping families transition with their children into WFISD.
- In its seventh year, WFISD’s Parents as Teachers program operated at capacity through the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the direction of Yolanda Lewis, the program serves 120 families with 45 more on a wait list. Despite switching from home visits to virtual visits, the program did not lose a single participant.
- In November 2020, the WFISD Audit Report was so clean that the auditing firm, Weaver and Tidwell, L.L.P., found nothing that was not properly accounted for through their testing. There were no material weaknesses in WFISD’s accounting policy, procedures or processes. The Audit Report is the work each year of Chief Financial Officer Tim Sherrod, Director of Finance Denise Brown and the finance department.
- WFISD is a Google Reference District with 349 educators trained as Google Level 1 Certified Educators and 278 educators trained as Google Level 2 Certified Educators. The District also has 37 Google Certified Trainers.
- WFISD’s 2017 Teachers of the Year, Lexi Law and Heather Preston, were both named 2017 Region 9 Teachers of the Year.
- WFISD has two Texas Teachers of the Year: Donna Patrick and Sherry Lindemann
- In 2019, Region 9 voted Hirschi Principal Doug Albus and the Career Education Center’s Assistant Principal Jennifer Spurgers as its Region 9 Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year.
- WFISD has two Yellow Rose of Texas recipients: Christy Nash and Elizabeth Yeager
A hallmark of WFISD is its strong community support from private and public foundations. The West Foundation, the Priddy Foundation the Perkins/Prothro Foundation and the WFISD Foundation provide generous financial support that underwrites unique opportunities for students and faculty. These foundations provide classroom grants and fun student activities and incentives for students and educators.
These Teacher Recognition Programs include:
- Teacher of the Year
- West Foundation Teaching Excellence Awards
- D.E.A. Grants
- “Be Bold” Monthly Teacher Spotlight Award